I believe that education, be it primary, secondary or tertiary education is a right, and a privilege not to be taken for granted.
Access to education must not be denied for financial reasons. But with any right comes an enshrined obligation and set of responsibilities. I ask all those who were involved in violence and anti-social activities during the #FeedMustFall protests what is more important and fundamental: 1. Having any education? 2. Receiving free education? or 3. Having an education that empowers you to make a difference – and by inference the institutional platform: professors, teachers, facilities and resources that will provide this?
By destroying and revolutionising – physically and idealistically – these platforms have been damaged to the detriment of whom? The greatest impact will be felt by the very same individuals who committed these grievous acts. And who was the target? The universities themselves are not solely or even majoritively responsible for the fees structure, NSFAS or managing free education prerogative. They have a limited and in most cases insufficient “pot” to accommodate students through bursaries etc. So why attack them? They are just the soft target when it comes to the stakeholders in this environment.
The state and national government who are directly responsible for education policy and implementation is who SHOULD be held to account. And the empty election promises made by the ANC for over 20 years should be used as the justification for these students to change their vote or in many instances cast their first votes for change in 2019. The SRC’s and other representative student and staffing bodies should also, as key stakeholders engage with government, public and private entities (as well as the private sector), relevant NGOS as well anyone and everyone who can assist them in evolutionising the education I our country.
But it CANNOT happen violently or without compromise. Young people need to understand and acknowledge that nothing actually does come for free and that sacrifice – not just monetary/financial sacrifice – is the price we all pay for these rights. Because it is all our collective responsibility to protect the future of our land and the rights of generations to come by nurturing, growing and looking after the education resources we do have to benefit our society and communities forever. It is the basis of all our potential and progress and without really good, effective and sustainable education there is no tomorrow for any of us, least of all our children who are not even involved in any of this. Now I ask those individuals: is that fair and do they care about our (mine and their) children’s futures?