Tuesday, September 27, 2016

South Africa: Fees Won't Go Up for Some, So Why the Protests?
Many people think Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande's announcement on 2017 university fees on Monday was a good compromise and are confused by the countrywide student protests.

Poor students and those from families with an income of less than R600 000 a year won't pay higher tuition fees. Students from better-off families will pay an increase, to be capped at 8%.

So why are there still protests?

Student Athabile Nonxuba spoke to News24 on the sidelines of a protest march last week and sums up some of the main issues:

- These protests are a national call to institutions of higher learning, public institutions, the government and the state, for a free, decolonised, black-centred education;

- A campaign called #bringbackourcadres is in support of students countrywide who have either been interdicted, suspended or expelled for their alleged violent behaviour during the protests. It takes months to have these overturned. These students cannot use any facilities such as the library, cannot do any assignments, and thus cannot graduate;

- They reject Nzimande's 0% increment for two categories of students. Education should be free and decolonised, starting from Grade 0 and all the way through tertiary level;

- It is not about who has money, and who does not have money. It is about not making education a commodity with a price tag;

- If government is serious about the fees problem, it would decrease fees every year until education is completely free;

- The workers' struggle is part of the students' struggle. Students want outsourcing to stop, and a minimum salary of R12 500 a month for workers;

- UCT wants a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to discuss problems at the institution;

- The fees commission is only focusing on money, not the broader issues:

"If anything is barbaric about what is happening today, it is being told education is not a right," Nonxuba said.

- Students are worried that there is not sufficient protection against rape and gender discrimination on campuses;

- Institutes of higher learning should not have to pay for land, rent, or rates;

"Why are they paying rates, rent, for land that belongs to the people, and the institutions on them are meant to serve people? If you don't have money, why are you still paying for land?"

- Some students don't agree with a march by UCT's academic staff to Parliament on Thursday.

"But even they are agreeing that there is a problem with government," Nonxuba said of the protest.

- The #Feesmustfall movement does not advocate for 1.5% of GDP to be spent on education, as academics had suggested. It must be decommodified;

- Everyone should get equal treatment on campus, but this is not the case. Disabled students are not adequately catered for.

Source: News24

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