Johannesburg - A group of South African medical students on strike in Cuba over a monthly stipend displayed a lack of gratitude, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said on Friday.
“The sense of entitlement and lack of gratitude displayed by these students who come from a country with such high levels of desperate need for higher education, and with limited state resources, is totally unacceptable,” Nzimande said in a statement.
“I condemn it in the strongest terms.”
At least 187 students studying medicine in Cuba have embarked on a protest action and a hunger strike, threatening to return to South Africa if their demands were not met.
According to the department, the students were demanding US500 (R4439).
The students presently receive US200 (R1175) a month.
Nzimande said government spent about R500 000 per student over six years for language courses, medical training and living expenses in Cuba.
The students' actions threatened opportunities for other deserving South African students to benefit from the long-standing co-operation that existed between the two countries.
“If they are demanding something that is a privilege... as if it is a right and threaten to come back home, then maybe they should do just that and open up an opportunity for other equally deserving young people who are thirsty for such opportunities.”