Fees commission must find 'humane solution' - Frank Chikane's son

2016-09-06 19:01
(Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

(Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

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Cape Town - The fees commission needs to find a solution that makes the “most humane sense”, the son of African National Congress stalwart Frank Chikane said at its hearings on Tuesday.

Kgotsi Chikane said the commission however seemed destined to look for an answer that made the most economic sense for a country like South Africa.

He made it clear that the commission “reeks of a setup”.

“But, alas, I find myself giving credence to your cause by adding an additional student voice that in the end I fear will fall on deaf ears,” he said in a written submission.

President Jacob Zuma established the Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training in January, following countrywide protests against university fee increases late last year. It is investigating the feasibility of free higher education.

Chikane described himself as relatively advantaged and had a proverbial safety net during his university studies. He did not represent a certain group and would not recommend how to resolve the funding crisis in the sector.

He was part of a group of protesters who were arrested after storming the Parliament precinct during protests against fee increases in October 2015. The charges were later dropped.

‘You have forgotten us’

He said #FeesMustFall was not a campaign to destabilise the higher education sector. Instead, it allowed students from both previously advantaged and disadvantaged universities to interrogate the “nonsensical nature” of higher education funding.

He believes the question driving students was how one could morally justify the financial exclusion of an academically achieving black student in present-day South Africa.

He said the end of the “rainbow nation” was due to the “unnerving detachment” that their custodians, fathers, mothers, and mentors had towards the achievement and success of the black child.

“You have forgotten us, but we have not forgotten ourselves.”

Survivalist decision-making

Chikane said universities’ failure to find new forms of income had led to a survivalist mode of decision-making.

“Many vice-chancellors will tell you that the majority of their time is spent trying to raise the income of the university through donations. But why must the burden of their failure fall on the shoulders of students?

“Utilising a model that relies on fee increases is simply a model that seeks the path of least resistance based on the need to continue surviving. This is not a trap I want this commission to fall into.”

He asked the commission to reflect on the purpose of universities. If it failed, the consequences would reverberate across society.

“I believe that South Africa is on the precipice of something either terrifying or truly memorable,” he concluded.

Read more on:    education  |  university fees

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