Make the #FeesMustFall campaign positive

Posted by Raashida Khan on 05 October 2016 2:55 PM CAT

Everybody has something to say about the #FeesMustFall protests. The students; protesting and non-protesting, the institutions, including faculty staff and administrative staff, the president (via his spokespeople), the government departments, politicians, economists, big business, small business, respected commentators like J Jansen and Moletsi Mbeki, heroes like Caster Semenya, a truck driver, people who have had the privilege of attending universities and those that have not – the list goes on.


We don’t need yet another voice chirping up, so I have chosen not to comment, although I have strong views on the matter. Instead I would like to make an appeal to the students. The future, they say belongs to the youth. But for you, the youth to claim your future, you need to help build it. That starts here and now. 

#FeesMustFall Protesters - I applaud your courage and respect your right to protest. Silent protestors who sat and read on the steps of UCT, appealing for a return to classes, I applaud your courage, and am heartened.

I would encourage all students to unite with each other and the entire country. We all want the same thing for you – an education. A more educated youth means we all win. We cannot deny that to begin to address the inequality that still persists, we must achieve equal access to opportunity, especially to education. This means, a university education for every school-leaver who qualifies and wants to study, should be achievable. It must not be dependent on resources. 

The reality though is that much as we know this to be right, can it realistically be achieved? I don’t know – I have not done the research to answer that scientifically. I am not talking about a comparison to other societies – the examples of Germany or some Nordic countries that have managed to heavily subsidise tertiary education, are not sufficiently convincing. Our countries are worlds apart.   

Surely though, if we all put our heads together, we could figure this out, or am I being naively optimistic? We all love South Africa and want to continue to be proud South Africans. We have some of the brightest minds, and a burning desire for success. Students, I challenge you: propose a sustainable, positive and constructive way forward, and you will be supported to achieve it. Make your plan feasible and back it up with research, and we will all be on board.


Raashida Khan is Account Director at Indigo New Media, a graduate of UKZN and a proud South African.

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