What does it mean to me as a child from a working class family?
I fully understand the majority who are crying for free education, after all, what would a society be if it isn’t education. The late President Nelson Mandela said; “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Indeed we need to be educated to move away from our current social status.
We’ve been raised to follow one structure, primary school, high school, varsity, then work. No one has ever told us about entrepreneurship, breaking the pattern which our parents had followed. No has ever told us about developing our skills, using our God-given talents to make a living. We’ve been patterned to this one culture of a school, varsity, work than retirement and in most families that’s the ultimate achievement.
What will happen in a country such as South Africa if all were to be educated, all of us possessing university degrees? It will mean an enlightened society, a society of elites who are able to bring change to their current situation. It will mean transformation, going a level higher than our current selves. It will mean building granny that dream house, mum moving into her own space and eventually finding my freedom. Is it really like that?
Free education comes with a price. Already we have graduates dominating the unemployment market, graduates who are underemployed, graduates who had to settle for any job because they have to put bread on the table.
Free education will not eradicate unemployment in our society.
It won’t move us from the already disadvantaged system. It will only produce more unemployed elites.
How about; instead of fighting for free education and start fighting for more jobs. Grooming more entrepreneurs in communities. Enhancing our skills, how about we look beyond the textbook and start creating an educated society outside the classroom. After all being educated doesn’t necessarily mean having a university qualification.
We speak much of decolonisation yet we still go to the very structures that have colonised our mindset, that has told us we need a piece of paper to be better. A piece of paper to move out of poverty. The same structures which we want to be decolonised are still colonising us.
Let’s try to more innovative, think of new ways of eradicating the broken system, where the poor remain poor regardless of their education and the rich forever prosper because they have better infrastructure, better schools and better learning resources.
Looking at the realities of free quality education seems like a far-fetched dream at the moment. Don’t get me wrong it is possible to get our free education but the realities of the now, we’re still ‘oppressing’ ourselves. Let’s look at our basic education, it is free- our schools are underdeveloped, some classrooms are not in a good state for learning. Lack of resources; textbooks, stationery, a simple chalkboard in some cases. Our teachers are working in tough conditions to give the kids the essential basic education they need. Most of our schools are not a conducive learning environment. We rarely produce good matric results. When our kids get to varsity they’re faced with a massive culture shock, a total 360-degree transformation, most do not perform well during their first year. And it’s not because they’re stupid or lazy, it’s because of the system they’re from.
Let’s first fix basic education before we can get free quality tertiary education.
To answer the question what does #FeeMustFall mean to me as a child from a working class family, well I’m still disadvantaged #TheMissingMiddle
#FeesMustFall indeed #FeesWillFall
(Authored by Thembekile Sibiya, student at Wits University, South Africa)