Plea to Save Academic Year in South Africa

October 4, 2016

The vice chancellor and principal of the University of the Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg, on Monday issued an unusual plea for help to “save the 2016 academic year.”

Academic operations at the South African university are due to resume today for the first time since Sept. 20 as protests, some of which have turned violent, calling for free higher education have shut down campuses across the country.

Adam Habib, the vice chancellor, wrote in a message that the university would reopen for academic classes today with “a full security contingent” in place.

“I need every staff member and every student to help me take back our campus as the academic program opens tomorrow,” Habib wrote Monday. “It is not ideal to attend classes with police at the doors of learning, but I am left with no choice.”

“If we do not get this right tomorrow, we have no choice but to close the university, which will compromise the 2016 academic program and the lives of all 37,000 students. It means that all students will have to move out of residences before the end of the week,” Habib wrote. A poll conducted by the university last week found that 77 percent of students favor the resumption of classes.

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