Once again students are demanding that fees must fall. This isn’t the first time this demand has been issued and if something isn’t done in response – and soon – protests like these will most likely become annual occurrences.
I can understand the frustration that fuels #FeesMustFall. I have also been in the situation where I had to worry that my tuition fees were simply unaffordable. I mean that I, just like countless other South African students, didn’t have have stacks of cash lying ahead of being told how much more I’d have to pay to get a qualification next year. It’s also a hard fact that obtaining funding can also prove to be a mission too impossible to achieve. The current situation is not all that surprising.
People naturally have different views about the current protests. Some are positive and supportive, some are just indifferent while some are just annoyed about the inconvenience protests have on their lives. I know how the protesting students feel; it was only last year where I felt like they do right now.
So naturally I think that their demands are reasonable. I believe that in spite of the politicians’ spin about how unaffordable free education, even while less important expenditures somehow find their way onto the budget. How many billions have been spent rescuing wasteful public companies? How hard can it be to rescue students who truly need rescuing?
I feel like it’s easier for me to come have a reasonable and favourable opinion of the protesting students because I have been in a situation where I felt desperate and hopeless. I am fortunate enough to know what they are fighting for feels like.
I am able to pursue my education without worrying about exorbitant university fees and accumulating crippling debts. Under these conditions it is a whole lot easier to focus on the what’s important to any student: learning.
So knowing how it was for me and how it could be for them makes it very easy for me to say fight on. There is no question in my mind that #FeesMustFall.
Written by Gomotso Mofokeng