By Krishnee Naidoo

Disgruntled students and parents are up in arms as the future of the popular Durban-based Centre for Fine Art Animation and Design (CFAD) founded by the renowned Dr Nanda Soobben, hangs in the balance, following extended delays over accreditation and promised bursary funding.

An aggrieved Dr Sooben said, “Application documents have been submitted under very trying circumstances including financial challenges. We are awaiting the confirmation of the accreditation reinstatement and the granting of the new registration. We were given to understand that the accreditation application would be finalised in one to three months, which would have been at the end February. We have not heard anything from them. Meanwhile, we have been inundated with requests to start teaching first years.”

Recognised as an Institute of Excellence, CFAD has been operational for more than 23 years and is one of the oldest arts college in the country that offers an integrated multimedia diploma (fine arts, design, animation).

“There was a meeting with first year students and parents at the beginning of March to explain the situation. The students and parents were adamant that they should not miss out on any more of the curriculum. Parents have submitted heartfelt pleas to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to appeal for the accreditation reinstatement to be speeded up so that their children are not prejudiced by the delay and their right to education violated,” said Dr Soobben.

The prominent cartoonist, expressed his frustration at the various challenges that CFAD has faced over a period of time including being robbed five times when the study centre was situated in Cowey Road. “The consequences of the spate of robberies that we faced resulted in a massive loss of equipment and pertinent information. It has been a journey of tribulations which we have strived to overcome,” said Dr Soobben.

He added that it has been a very stressful time for current second and third year students’ as well as staff. “To add insult to injury, bursary funding promised to students never arrived. We didn’t get paid R2 million rand in bursaries for 30 students who were not sent home by us but were all allowed to graduate. They say the appeal is pending but we are still suspended. We had to put all our new students on hold. All our lives are hanging in the balance waiting for the DHET to finalise our application so we can focus on arts education,” Dr Soobben said.

Comment from the Department of Higher Education and Training was not forthcoming at the time of going to press.