The Imbizo is being be attended by various sectoral leaders, including parents, students, business and labour who have packed a conference hall at Emperors Palace in Boksburg.
Speaking to SAnews before the start of Imbizo, Presidency spokesperson Dr Bongani Ngqulunga said the aim of the Imbizo is to involve broader stakeholders to sit down and discuss the issue of university fees, which has seen higher education institutions being closed and the destruction of property.
“We are hoping that by the end of the day, there might be proposals on how to break the current impasse, given that education is a societal issue,” said Dr Ngqulunga.
He said government was concerned that if the universities continue to close, children might lose their academic year.
President Jacob Zuma will open the meeting shortly.
“This is a crucial moment for our students as we are almost in an examination period. We have called this multi stakeholder consultative forum as we believe that the responsibility to find a solution lies with all of society,” said Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande in a statement.
He said access to higher education, particularly for the poor, concerns all. “Therefore we have to find solutions to this situation.”
Last week the President held a meeting with the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster to reflect on the issue of the student’s protest for free higher education for all.
The President expressed serious concern at the escalation of violence, destruction of property and a general state of lawlessness and public disorder that has characterised the protests in a number of institutions of higher learning in the country.
At a media briefing by JCPS Cluster Ministers on Friday, government said it had made strides towards the realisation of expanding access to higher education for students from poor and the working class backgrounds.
For the 2017 academic year, government has ensured that poor students who receive assistance from NSFAS, middle class and the “missing middle” do not pay any fee increase.
Students from families with an annual income of up to R600 000 will not pay any fee increase.
Government has further recommended to universities that the fee increases should not exceed 8%. The subsidy will benefit almost 70% of all undergraduate students in universities and colleges.
The JCPS Minister on Friday appealed to the leadership of students, parents and all stakeholders to work together with government to dissuade students from committing acts of criminality that may result in criminal records which may jeopardise their future prospects.