More protest actions by students at the Grootfontein Agricultural College in Middelburg (Eastern Cape) can follow soon if urgent attention is not paid to their demands.
Last week several disgruntled students started to give utterance to their dissatisfaction with the living conditions at the College by erecting a pigpen in front of the entrance to the college.
This protest action followed after repeated pleas by AfriForum Youth and students to Tino Herselman, Director of the College, fell on deaf ears. The youth organisation also requested that students’ grievances be brought to the attention of Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, during his recent visit to the College. No feedback has been received to date on whether this did happen and whether action will be taken.
“Management insists that we must follow the correct channels to report our complaints, but when we follow these channels we get very little to no reaction. If management does address a complaint, they only provide temporary solutions,” says Jan-Hendrik Goosen, Chairperson of AfriForum Youth’s Grootfontein branch.
According to Marike van As, AfriForum Youth’s Coordinator for the University of the Free State and Grootfontein Agricultural College, the living conditions are however not the only problem at this College, but there are also problems such as poor residency management, unfair enforcement of transformation, disregard of language rights and poor management of the seven training farms. She says that AfriForum Youth and various students are also concerned about the quality of education at the College.
“The state is pushing for land reform, but the institutions where young farmers must be trained are going to rack and ruin. It seems that the privatisation of these institutions is the only alternative should the political will not be there to address and solve current problems. We want Grootfontein Agricultural College to be one of the best in the country again,” says Van As.