Nehawu members from further education and training (FET) colleges in Gauteng handed a memorandum of demands to the national department of higher education and training on Wednesday.
The action followed “the failure of the department to solve myriad problems” facing the FET college sector, said Sizwe Pamla, media liaison officer for the education and health workers’ union.
Gauteng has eight of the country’s 50 public FET colleges, with 126 000 students — about 30% of the national total. In September last year Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande held two high-profile summits within a week of each other, the first on FET colleges, the second on skills development.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget last month allocated huge increases to public colleges and, in January, President Jacob Zuma announced measures to exempt college students from paying fees, starting this year.
But Pamla said: “The level of service that workers and students have received from these colleges is embarrassing and unacceptable. It is sad that the working class and poor students are forced to take to the streets and end up losing valuable learning time for their cries for help to be heard in this country.
“The future of working-class children and their parents is at stake if we fail to act.”