Decolonised, de-commodified, quality education Anele Mngadi

2016-11-09 06:01

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IT has been six weeks since the announcement from the Minister of Higher Education and Training to increase tertiary fees and some universities have been on a shutdown since then with no hope of academic activities resuming until either the office of the minister or the president gives a positive response to students’ demands.

The primary demand is decolonised, de-commodified, quality education. The decolonisation of the current education system is a step that is vital when looking to transform the education system and institutions of tertiary education.

The current education system dehumanises and undermines African students. It undermines African thinkers and the role they played in the production of knowledge by advancing Eurocentric ideas and using Eurocentric standards of thinking, this fails to address African problems.

These Eurocentric interests imposed on African students do not serve Africans socially, economically or even culturally. In order revive the system institutions of higher learning must be transformed.

On de-commodification - for the longest time education has been commodified, available for those with money and excludes those who cannot afford it.

The idea of “affordability” in a South African context is not only classist but also racist making higher education not accessible to majority of black South Africans, even with good matric results the upfront payment of registration fees is often too high.

The aim of universities should not be to chase a profit, universities cannot be run like spaza shops, the primary role of universities should be to equip students with knowledge and skills to make a difference, transform and become contributing members of society thus making education a worthy investment.

De-commodified and accessible education for all is social justice.

On quality - there has been the view that if tertiary education becomes free the quality of both education and research produced by South African public institutions of higher learning will deteriorate in value and in quality, hence making private collages a more popular and expensive choice.

This makes it very clear that universities need the money contributed by students to operate, however, this does not change the fact that university education is expensive and most poor students cannot afford it.

The money needs to come from somewhere – the top 30% of the population should be taxed more to fund higher education and the question around quality free education can be addressed.

The only thing standing between the South African government giving a positive answer to the most fundamental demands is the lack of political will.

The aim of universities should not be to chase a profit, universities cannot be run like spaza shops, the primary role of universities should be to equip students with knowledge and skills to make a
difference, transform and become contributing members of society thus making education a worthy investment

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