Catholic bishops pledge to help South Africa solve education inequalities

Catholic bishops pledge to help South Africa solve education inequalities

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Protesting students and youth from political parties gather at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, Oct. 23. (CNS photo/Kim Ludbrook, EPA)
Protesting students and youth from political parties gather at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, Oct. 23. (CNS photo/Kim Ludbrook, EPA)
Protesting students and youth from political parties gather at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, Oct. 23. (CNS photo/Kim Ludbrook, EPA)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — South African church leaders urged university students who won a government commitment to a tuition freeze in 2016 to return to the classroom and said they will help find solutions to the country’s mounting education crisis. President Jacob Zuma announced tuition would hold steady in 2016 in response to student protests that began Oct. 13 at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and spread to other campuses nationwide. The “financial precariousness of most students should not be an obstacle to accessing education,” said the national executive of the South African Council of Churches, of which the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference is a member. After an Oct. 29 meeting in Johannesburg, the council members said they will meet with students, university management, government and the private sector to discuss ways of ensuring equitable access to university education. The church leaders said they recognize the importance of the campaigns “in defense of poor families caught in the crosshairs of spiraling costs of university education.”