The President’s visit to the campus, north of Pretoria, on Tuesday falls under the Siyahlola Presidential Monitoring Programme. The visit was aimed at assessing the effectiveness of government interventions aimed at supporting youth to acquire higher and post-school education and skills.
The programme for the day included a visit to one of the student residences and an address by President Zuma at the university’s hall.
Lindokuhle Manne, 18, a first year Business Communication student told SAnews her main concern was financial aid.
“Not many students get (access to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme) here. It is a big issue that has been overlooked countless times.
“This affects us in a big way. Earlier in the year there was a strike about this and our tests were rescheduled, and as a result our yearly programme has been compromised just because of a minor issue that can be easily dealt with,” said Manne.
Twenty-one year old Silas Moleele was happy the President visited the campus and said such visits should be done on a regular basis.
“It is important for the President just to come and check – it shows responsibility and we thank the Department of Higher Education and Training for that.”
The Educational Studies student, however, was not happy with the poor state of the residential accommodation, including the bedrooms, kitchens and shower facilities. Also, the laboratories on campus were not of the best quality.
“There are also a lot of taverns around here which I believe should be banned from operating during school hours,” said Moleele, adding that enough funds should be made available through NSFAS to avoid strikes such as the one by students earlier in the year.
Another student, Thulani Hleo, 20, said he was happy to see such an initiative taking place in his university.
“This shows that they are not only promising to deliver, but they make an effort to come and check how far they have progressed in terms of the promises that they made to us,” said Hlelo, who is doing his second year in Educational Studies.
Robert Makhubu told SAnews that he wanted to request the President to take education seriously. He said the President, when reporting to Parliament, should tell them that the students of TUT are struggling to pay their fees.
“They need to invest in education. I am one of those students who are struggling to pay fees. I do not have NSFAS,” said Makhubu.
President Zuma, in his address to students in the hall later in the day, said his visit came as a result of him receiving complaints about dilapidated bathrooms in the female residences, some students not having accommodation and using a disused primary school, disturbances caused by shebeens and security on campus.
He said some of the issues had been attended too, for example the bathrooms have been refurbished and students who were “squatting’’ at Botho Centre have been relocated.
He said the taverns located opposite the university was a cause for serious concern and the Gauteng Provincial Government was attending to it.
“I have been informed that one tavern was found to be lawfully licensed. The owner has given an undertaking to close earlier than before in light of the location of his tavern. Another tavern has been shut down while another owner is making presentations at the Gauteng Liquor Board,” said the President.
He said drugs and substance abuse destroyed the youth and “we do not take kindly to people who deliberately seek to destroy the future of our youth”.
President Zuma said he was happy that the outstanding uses raised by students earlier in the day would be addressed by Chairperson of the Student Council, Bandile Masuku.
He urged the students to study and work hard and succeed.
“The economy of this country needs your skills and expertise. Your country needs you,” he added.