South Africa never seems to get a break. Just when one thought that another sector of our country could not be affected, the higher education system falls prey to the sharp claws of a new generation of struggle children, the ‘fallists’, and subsequently brings up a myriad list of problems ‘plaguing’ the African community as a whole. Even when playing devil’s advocate to this dangerous phenomenon, its clear to see that this ‘movement’ seeks no compromise or remedy to its issues, victimizes anyone who dissents against it and has spanned to a capitalization of ‘problems’ much larger than fees.
We’ve all seen it before, whether on the news or in real time: buildings vandalised and buses on fire. Riots in the streets and looting of stores. The occasional rock-throwing toward police and security. A student publicly shamed for wanting classes to resume. All these gestures disguised under the term ‘peaceful protest’. (No, one picture of a student giving a policeman flowers does not compensate for the other non-peaceful action taken against universities.) The higher education system has been hijacked by a bunch of ne’er do wells and there’s no end in sight; every student against the protest watches their universities burn to the ground along with the work of 2016. This is the sham that is the Fees Must Fall ‘movement’.
The premise behind these strikes is simple: free higher education, correct? No. As time goes on and there’s no end in sight, we’re seeing new demands that have nothing to do with fee-free higher education stretch through the cracks and rear their ugly heads. What this ‘movement’ (I shudder to call it a movement) has become is a spearhead for racial identity politics, and ultimate totalitarianism for its ideas. While the facet for making free quality education sits as their shield, behind it lies a smorgasbord of newly developed privileged negative emotions to justify inadequate reasoning.
Students all over South Africa are affected. In some universities, mass meetings are called and are comprised mostly of fees must fall renegades and some dissenters. They don’t usually make up a reasonable fraction of the university, some of the meetings. All ideas related to not attending classes and protesting are lauded; ideas regarding finishing the academic year, even by FMF supporters, are shut down, the students victimised… and so the cycle continues. Memorandums that have nothing to do with the ‘movement’ are read by SRCs nationwide, demands no one except the renegades understands are then cheered for. Some might tell you, “Thank goodness, we won’t go to class anytime soon.” The situation is made up of people who:
• don’t want to go back to university,
• know how to make management cower, and
• effectively brutalise their language when someone threatens them.
This issue of fees was solved easily by the Democratic Alliance (and anyone who stopped to think for a second) with the idea that education should be free for those who are too poor to afford it AND academically deserve it. ‘deserve it’ referring not to students with a 30% average, naturally. Then, there’s the ‘missing middle’ – a group of students who are too rich for NSFAS, or government funding, and too poor for other financing methods. Those could be bridged rather than fully supplemented. And if you can afford it… pay for it. It’s quite literally so simple a toddler could have thought it up.
FMF models or ‘roadmaps’ make eloquent words and statements about how the government should increase this and decrease that to reach their goal. Yet, not only do they realise that their plans would take years to implement, but that basically, free higher education CANNOT be free in a developing country, no matter how many pretty models they make. Stop pointing to Germany and Norway – these are developed countries with stronger economies. You can point to Uganda, though, where the implementation of such caused low standards of development and training with minimal research, an inability to pay its staff, insane fees for degrees with no international value (within paying universities)… the list goes on.
Some more grasps at straws – the renegades begin a story of ‘decolonised’ education. People asked themselves, “How does one decolonise science and physics and and and…”
The fallists, never not having an answer, responded by saying they want to start the entire process of science all over again ‘from an African perspective’. I wish I was kidding. The underlying narrative? Students seek no solution to the problem and are effectively switching goalposts whenever one wants to fix their current issue.
At this rate, not only are they kicking the academia of SA in the face, HARD, but they’ve got some fight left to try and dazzle people with hollow, academically unsound words about how ‘white privilege’ has put them in the situation.
– Mlungisi Nxumalo (@africanfact101)