Students troubled as ‘Fees must fall’ continues

2016-10-04 06:00
Destruction caused to a statue outside UKZN’S Howard College Campus. Photo: sourced.

Destruction caused to a statue outside UKZN’S Howard College Campus. Photo: sourced.

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WHAT started as a campaign to lower higher education fees around the country has taken a drastic and violent turn for the worst.

The #FeesMustFall campaign has seen students become violent at protests and destructive by damaging university property.

Students are slowly forming a division as some remain spellbound by the campaign, while others are concerned for their safety as well as their education as campuses are forced to close.

Many matriculants are also concerned as the destruction of university property will negatively impact on their studies next year.

The campaign started as students felt the exorbitant fees were preventing them from completing their degrees and thus slowing down the process for them to earn a living. Upper Highway students say that these protests need to stop and violence is not the answer. They say that these protests are causing more harm than good. Some also felt that these protests are now taking a racial and political turn, which is adding to the chaos.

Ashira Lukhan, a master’s industrial psychology student, said that she feels it is the students who are putting them at a disadvantage as their whole academic year is on hold due to these protests.

She said that she has assignments due and tests to write, but due to the protests campuses are forced to close. “These delays are hindering our studies. When will all of this end?” Lukhan added: “On one side students are fighting for their rights and the very tools to help them combat poverty. On the other, it is disrupting other students and the violence may not be the way to get the government’s attention on such matters. They are important matters that must be addressed but at what expense?

“The government needs to take notice of these issues and act to address the concerns with tangible action,” she added.

A University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), student who did not want to be named, said that she is in constant fear when she arrives at campus as she never knows what the day holds.

“When we arrive on campus everything seems okay and we [attend] lectures. However as the day progresses the tension builds and people instigate protests. At the end of the day we are here to study and get our qualifications, this campaign is selfish and it is making me consider applying overseas to complete my studies,” said the angry student.

A Hillcrest High matriculant pupil, who also wished to remain anonymous, is concerned about how this campaign will impact on her future as she is currently applying to universities for 2017.

She said that she believes the campaign is a ripple effect of a bad education system. “In South Africa we have an education system which lends itself solely to university with no real focus on the availability of FET colleges and other skills based institutions.

“This along with the perplexed mentality that university is the only way to attain success are the core issues of this movement.

“It is important to highlight that university is not a right, but rather a privilege. Nothing valued comes easy,” she said.

The pupil added: “If education is free it will lose its value and allow people who are not actually interested in learning to take advantage of this right. I believe the government should focus on making tertiary education available to the most worthy candidates- if you are not financially capable yet have the academic potential government should focus funds on uplifting you,” she concluded.

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