3 facts you need to know about #FeesMustFall
Over the past week students have banded together and unleashed a united cry, which has reverberated across the country. A cry that #FeesMustFall. Here are three facts you need to know to understand what’s at the heart of the protests.
- The struggles are connected
Students who called for the Rhodes statue to be removed from the grounds of UCT (remember #RhodesMustFall) are central to these organised protests, as well as the students who demanded that Stellenbosch University be opened to those who do not speak Afrikaans. All these struggles are connected to the #FeesMustFall movement.
- What the students really want
The #FeesMustFall movement has been calling for no increase in tuition fees for the 2016 academic year where they have been proposed. On Monday 19 October, the Wits University Council did not show up to meet with students as promised, which prompted students to occupy and shutdown Empire Road.
Wits, on Tuesday, announced that they had decreased the proposed fee hike from 10.5% to 6%, despite having signed an agreement with students on Friday saying they would not decide on fee hikes without meeting and negotiating with them.
Meanwhile, at Rhodes University students are protesting for the minimum initial payment (MIP) to be scrapped. The university wants students to make a 50% minimum payment by January, for the 2016 academic year.
With the “National Shutdown” – where up to 14 universities and institutions of higher education in the country have been brought to a standstill – students across the country are calling for fee increases to be suspended and funding for Higher Education to be increased. As a natural progression, students want this movement to lead to an honest and serious conversation about how Higher Education can be made free; all this to stop the exclusion of poor students who are unable to participate in a commoditised educational system.
Another facet of the movement has been the students calling for an end to outsourced labour at the universities. Key support staff, such as cleaners and security, are not employed by universities but by third-party service providers. According to the joint student statement, this precludes them from the discounts children of academic staff enjoy. Most workers don’t earn much and hardly have any benefits.
- The students have been protesting peacefully
Police were dispatched to UCT, Stellenbosch, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and Rhodes where they have been documented on social media by protesting students as being aggressive and violent. Across the country students have been staging sit-ins where, inevitably, someone — be it the public or police, but not the students themselves — has gotten violent. Such as that man who drove through a barricade and injured students at UCT. And the man who tried to do the same on Empire Road. At NMMU police fired rubber bullets and teargas at protestors staging a sit-in.
To support the protesting students, contact respective Student Representative Council leaders and send supplies such as food and water.
What are your thoughts on this matter? Share your own Higher Education stories in the comments, m’khaya.