South African Universities not doing enough

2016-05-09 08:46

At a time where institutions of higher learning are under scrutiny for their obvious exploitation of staff and students, it has become apparent Universities are the very institutions that prohibit the progress of the country.

This is contrary to their supposed commitments in administering change. Understanding the role tertiary education plays in South Africa, it is safe to say that the progress of the country is being held hostage by covetous individuals that hide behind University councils. The fact of the matter is that they have commercialized institutions of higher education which presents a problem in itself. For you to access University you must be willing to pay. Understanding our societal and political arrangement in South Africa, the people that didn't have now have less and those that had are now in a situation where they have more. This reality for most South Africans despite the nauseating romanticism of a free and democratic South Africa.

Universities have adopted Fees Must Fall as theirs, which is an issue. They have presented themselves as the forces that are heralding change whereas they are the custodians of individualization and exploitation. Rhodes University Students have to beg, get shot, tear gassed and arrested for people in South Africa to recognize that we have serious problems within and around Universities that we need to deal with before we strike the imminent point of no return. This has consequences we would rather not know about. What has become a norm is the lack of urgency within the people of South Africa. Most universities have adopted passivity. Perhaps the inevitable has happened whereby those who were taking lead in various institutions have been singled out, threatened or even offered possible expulsion. The irony of it all is that the students were on to something but were strategically discouraged through rhetoric all too familiar.

Students during the Chilean Winter managed to do to what Fees Must Fall students are attempting to achieve. The onset of the 2011 Chilean Winter was attributed to several causes, more so the economic. Both are of the view that the bulk of the countries work and debt falls to the poor while the elite roam free. The similarity between the two movements suggests a growing opposition to the Unholy Trinity (W.T.O, World Bank and IMF) policies imposed on emerging nations. These include the social and economic impact these policies have on the population of countries who fall in the death trap of financial assistance from these institutions.

Many developing nations are in debt and poverty mostly due to the policies of international institutions. Structural Adjustment Programs in emerging nations have been heavily criticized for many years by academics, politicians and members of society for resulting in poverty. In addition, for developing or third world countries, there has been an undeniable increased dependency on the richer nations. Meaning Vasco Da Gama’s Cake of Africa is still trending and westerners have managed to get the ‘Slaves’ to come to them bearing gifts of their children’s bloodline through labor.

Half a year has passed since the students stormed Parliament and the Union buildings and seven months later there seems to be more issues piling up. Language Policies, Rape culture, Lack of institutional reform coupled with resistance from Universities who seem to care about the pocket of the student but not their livelihood. Not to say Universities are to bare all the problems of society rather as an institution of knowledge, they should have been the people who warned society as what it is to come and provide the recommendations they always readily have packaged when applying for tenders. Universities are responsible for their undoing; they have effectively dragged their feet and resisted change.

The government has a role to play but the Universities have now presented themselves as enemy number one. Court interdicts greet every student organization that attempts to right wrongs of society within University walls; this action by universities shows their reluctant nature to change. Perhaps the Western origin of the University-Model goes a way to answering whose interests it will represent should it come to crossroads. Minster Blade “Not So Sharp” Ndizmande did lament the private sectors passivity on the matter of higher education crisis. With Universities clearly a gateway to the now flat job market, more must be done on their part, alongside the private sector and the government.

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