UOS Congregations

Chief’s varsity fee input sits well with Blade

  • Chief Rabbi 15-HOME
Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein (pictured) accompanied by Rabbi Gideon Pogrund formed part of an interfaith meeting called by Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande in Johannesburg last week. Dr Nzimande is currently seeking the broadest possible community input into his quest to solve the crisis over university fees and student demand that there should be no increase at all - for the second year running.
by ANT KATZ | Sep 08, 2016

Rabbi Goldstein was one of 10 delegates of the National Religious Leaders Council (NRLC) who was invited to discuss the matter with Nzimande and some of his most senior officials.

The Minister presented the problem as well as a solution he is working on - but stressed that he wanted honest feedback from the group of faith leaders.

Nzimande’s current thinking is that fees would increase as normal, the Chief Rabbi told the Jewish Report, but that the increases would only apply to those who could afford it. Those who can’t would continue to pay the same fees as they did in 2015. The education institutions would get the fees they require as the subsidised students’ shortfalls would be funded by the State.

The reason for his plan, Nzimande told the meeting, was to ensure that the wealthy are not getting subsidies which they don’t need.

Seated opposite Nzimande at the table, the Chief Rabbi proposed a concept of “soft loans for students” which, he later told Jewish Report, means that “those who do well financially after studying will repay their loans” and could become part of what can eventually become a self-sustaining system.

Chief rabbi group and Blade

ABOVE: Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein and Rabbi Gideon Pogrund with leaders of other faiths and the Ministry for Higher Education

Rabbi Goldstein said the Minister really liked the idea and asked his deputy to make note of it.

Another of Rabbi Goldstein’s suggestions is already being actioned. The Chief Rabbi wrote a Bill of Responsibilities in 2009 (co-drafted with then-Minister of Education Naledi Pandor) which is now part of the primary school curriculum in South Africa and suggested its distribution should be expanded to higher education institutions, workplaces and the like.

The deputy director general in Nzimande’s ministry, Dr Dianne Parker, was tasked to work with Rabbi Goldstein to take the idea forward - and they are already in touch.

Nzimande said there is a gap the religious leaders could assist him with; there had been very little input into the debate from parents, resulting in a situation where educators, government and students are left to work out the answers without guidance from parents. He asked the faith leaders to please pass the message down the line so that community clergy could raise it with their individual congregations.

Towards the end of the meeting, the Chief Rabbi pleaded with the Minister to express the grave concerns of the country’s religious leaders to the President and his government “regarding the actions being taken against Minister Pravin Gordhan.” Dr Nzimande promised that he would convey the message.


  1. 7 Choni 12 Sep
    Wouldn't it be nice if the Chief Rabbi could tell Blade not to hate Israel?
  2. 6 nat cheiman 13 Sep
    Blade doesn't know where Israel is.
  3. 5 Malki 14 Sep
    Wouldn't it be nice if the Chief Rabbi could deal with issues affecting his own community directly.
  4. 4 Choni 14 Sep
    Nat, He knows alright, They recently refused him entry because of his anti- Israel remarks.
  5. 3 nat cheiman 15 Sep
    OH!!! I forgot Choni, you are quite correct.
    I thought he was just stupid . I never realised he was ant-Semitic
  6. 2 Russell Fig 22 Sep
    It is unfortunate that some South African blacks are anti semetic considering the role that Jews played in the anti Apartheid movement. What is it going to take to teach them gratitude? Are they so unaware of the Jews who were in the ANC and other Jews who continualy fought against Apartheid? How unfortunate that there are ignorant people who know praticly nothing about their own history.
  7. 1 C D Goldberg 06 Oct
    Every person has the fundamental human right towards an education and entry into a university and any other tertiary institution in South Africa must be solely on merit and nothing else.
    If the route is to provide free education, then strict no-nonsense conditions must be set with consequences if students are in breech of these conditions. Also poor academic performance, provided it is absolutely no fault of the university or institution, must lead to the expulsion of the student concerned.
    Furthermore the standards of school education have to be raised with immediate effect. 


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