Student protests: Where next?

UFS students demonstrate that an injury to one is an injury to all

The Journalist speaks to president of the SRC of the University of Free State about the way forward after the big student protests of recent weeks. Among other things, he speaks about a campaign that has been started to prevent needy students from being de-registered next year. Thabang Moselane, a first year Media Studies and Journalism student at UFS, reports.

A month ago students took a stand against moves to increase university fees in 2016. The movement grew rapidly and on 23 October President Zuma announced there would be no fees increase next year. The Journalist this week interviewed the president of the University of Free State’s SRC, Lindokuhle Ntuli and other students about this victory and the challenges that still remain

Lindokuhle Ntuli said students were happy about the decision to have no increase in 2016, but believes that students would face similar challenges because they will “subjected to the same fee structure”.

“Currently, there are a lot of students, nationwide, who cannot afford the current fee structure and not increasing the fees does not mean everyone will be able to afford it next year,” she said.

“The call for zero percent increment should serve as a build up to the call for free education. Two calls cannot, consecutively, follow one another in such a short period of time,” said Ntuli.

Ntuli said there should be realistic look at where to find the resources to fund the shortfall for next year and eventually to provide free education.

He said that as much as free education was a necessity for poor students, students, as a whole, needed to be reasonable in that regard.

“The government should look at their tax structure – the government needs to start taxing, especially the rich to find higher education. Also, a special-kind of tax should be imparted to the private sector,” said Ntuli.

He said that 30 percent of taxes from the private sector must go to higher education to fund students who cannot afford education. According to Ntuli, those who can afford to pay for education must continue to do so but whilst free education is still being introduced, those who cannot afford it must be funded.

In other developments on campus, The Right To Learn and No To De-registration Campaign was launched on Friday, 30 October. The campaign is to raise funds for students that may face de-registration next year.

The SRC firmly believes that Higher Education is the key to success and remains imperative in the fight against inequality and poverty and thus a donation is an investment not only in the students, but in the development and future of our country.

UFS SRC members have made pledges of no less than R500 each from their own pockets and they would like to challenge every student and members of the community to make a contribution towards this cause.

Ntuli said: ”Even though we received the zero percent increment, students cannot afford the current fee structure and this is exemplified by the number of students – 1 900 -that were subject to be de-registered. These are students who cannot afford education and the SRC took a stand and intervened saying that, “in as much as we can protest and send memorandums to the university, we also have an obligation and a duty to raise funds and help students who may be de-registered next year.

“It is heartbreaking to see a poor black student with a solid academic record going back home because of insufficient funds and because of outstanding fees and as the SRC we say No! to de-registration, we say No! to food insecurity and we say Yes! to textbooks and education.”

Asked how The Right To Education and No To De-registration Campaign will benefit students that may face de-registration, this is what some students said:

Sechaba Makuapane – BA Media Studies and Journalism student: Sometimes we need to unite and stand together. This is a very wonderful initiative and the SRC is proving to us each and every day that they have our best interests at heart.

Kisto Jasson – Bcom Accounting student: We are the future leaders of this world. One cannot simply overlook or ignore issues that are affecting our fellow brothers and sisters. Education is the key to success but wouldn’t it be nice if everyone owned that key? This initiative is great!

Thokozane Mei – The world is full of takers but we’ve decided to be givers. This initiative will change and impact the lives of many students and that’s the reason I’m for it.

These are the president’s last words: I do not and will not stand to see a student who qualifies on academic merits getting de-registered next year.

  • Photo by Khanya Mali
  • Photo by Tango Twasa
  • Photo by Tebogo Chabangu
  • Photo by Thabang Moselane
  • Photo by Thabang Moselane
  • Photo by Unarine Ramaru
  • Photo by Teboho Mpholo