Fees Must Fall-A perspective from UWC

The impatience displayed by the youth is going to get to a point where matters are going to get out of control. Change is inevitable; this is also evident in institutions of higher learning where students are vocal about transformation and most importantly free education. The #FeesMustFall movement is a pure example of an in-demand change in society.

One also wonders, is 2017 going to see another #FeesMustFall protest yet again? 

#FeesMustFall- a popular protest that has taken South African universities by storm for the past 2 years, one asks, is this trend going to come back this year? And then vanish into thin air? Lukhanyo May, an activist of FeesMustFall at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), sat down with me to answer a few questions about the movement. 

Q- Universities have announced an 8% fee increment for the current year; unfortunately this has a direct effect on UWC students as well, what is FMF view?

A-It still saddens us that the university doesn’t recognise the legitimate cry that we made. Last year, they came to us as students and people who supported our call for free education. However, it’s disappointing to see them implementing such decisions after they assured us of their support, it’s hypocrisy.

Q- Is it then safe to say that we can expect another FMF protest in 2017?

A-Protests always come and it’s always a collective decision made by the student populate. If the students feel like they want to protest, then they will, but I cannot assure you that there will be any FMF protest in 2017.

May add that: “We have always been willing to engage management, they themselves know, memorandums have been sent; at any time we are willing to engage management. In fact, doors have been shut in our faces. What we want is service to students, these protests are tiring.”

Meanwhile, UWC spokesperson Luthando Tyalibongo said: “For this year we expect further engagements with the Student Representatives, FMF movement and other structures to see how we can work out university specific issues and through those issues, assist students.”

He added that: “For example, there were some things that were raised in 2016 that the university can deal with in assuring that those things do not become a problem in 2017.”

Is the NYDA as a youth institution doing what it’s suppose to?

This goes to show that today’s youth is so determined in setting the agenda of a more inclusive state, bridging the gap between the rich and the poor. Be that as it may, does that mean there is a lack or enough support coming from youth institutions to advocate for the strides of those who want to see change and progress? Where do institution such as the NYDA (National Youth Development Agency) feature? What is their role in attempts to be the voices of the majority youth in these trying times? Well, for many the organisation seems to be of no valuable use.

In an interview conductucted with Mzoli Dondolo, a 30 year old youth from Queenstown, Eastern Cape he said: “The only time I made sense of what the NYDA does, was when I was advised to seek for funding for my newly established business. Honestly, I knew there was something called “NYDA” but, I was not aware what it is for.”

“I feel like the organisation needs to look deeper in its mandate. I mean thousands of innovative youth do not know where to go just because the organisation is not visible. Even if you have a conversation with someone with a great business idea and you recommend them to the agency, some would say something along the lines of, “yhoo lento inabantu bayo” (this thing has its own people), adds Dondolo.

“The only way these youth organisations can be of great use, is when they avail themselves to the public, be prepared to be scrutinised, get attached to the people they supposed to serve, and serve everyone fairly with dignity.”

What could have possibly happened to the credibility of these youth organisations; do we perhaps still have trust in the youth institutions? It seems like the majority is contrary.

I went to the streets of Salt River, to ask what can be done to restore trust in youth organisations, and the public’s majority opinion was that there is no youth institution that is known to service the youth, some citing reasons such as lack of visibility and lack of exciting programmes, lack of visits to townships for awareness campaigns and some were angry to say that those that have benefited are probably well connected.

At this stage one could wonder what the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma wouldn say about education, youth institutions and their founding purposes in his State of the Nations Address in February. We can wait in the hope that stricter measures will be put in place to make sure that services do reach the poorest.

 Photo credit: Voices of Youth 

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Throughout the Fees Must Fall demonstrations, we hardly heard from students who have secured funding or have the means to pay for their studies. The voices of those not affected by the staggering fee increases appears to be silent. Ramadimetja Makgeru caught up with two students who have funding to hear their thoughts on the Fees Must Fall movement.