The FeesMustFall protests have gained significant attention in South Africa but many matriculants feel the violence associated with the protests has harmed the noble intentions.
CAPE TOWN – The Matric Class of 2016 was initially inspired by the Fees Must Fall movement which has shaken the tertiary education sector in South Africa, but this has quickly dissipated as the protests on university campuses have turned increasingly violent, leading to the view that the free education cause has been lost.
This was according to matriculants that the African News Agency spoke to in the lead-up to the examination period which is currently underway across South Africa.
Jordan Louw, 18, from South Peninsula High School in Cape Town, said that when the Fees Must Fall movement started out, she thought it was inspiring.
“Finally students were standing up against higher tuition fees and I felt myself being encouraged to get involved, but from this year it has been getting out of hand,” she said. “Nothing can be achieved by defacing university property.”
Alexandra Wittenberg-Scott, 18, from Rusternburg Girls’ High School, stood firm and said that if free universities were needed, then certain universities needed to be fully government-subsidised so that there was an option for students who could not afford university education.
Wittenberg-Scott went on to say that the fight for free education would only get worse. “They are causing the universities more money troubles by protesting. The real route is the government who then needs to provide the universities with more money and only then, will things get better,” said Scott.
“Cutting the fees entirely, would severely decrease the quality of education that we receive. I could understand cutting the fees but to take them away completely would not be beneficial at all.”
Chulumanco Mawonga, 18, from the Portlands High School in Mitchells Plain, said the actions of the protesters were not doing future students justice. “Next year I might not have my opportunity to study due to the actions taken towards the universities and the vandalism. They are taking us 10 steps back.”
Lemarco Jones, 18, also from Portlands High, agreed, saying: “They have lost their cause. Free education is a good cause yes, but the vandalism is not good.”
Bronislav Diergaardt, 18, from Lentegeur High School, also in Mitchells Plain, said: “Fees should fall for all types of education, not just higher education.”
However, Amanda Dyonase, 18, from Cape Town High School, said: “If the fees were to fall completely, I still don’t think students will be able to attend universities because they would close down anyway due to no funding.”
Nkosibonile Mahlangabeza, 18, from Isilimela High School in Langa said: “We are fearing that we might not attend university because we heard that our application forms were burnt. The government and the protesters need to sit down and find a way forward without vandalism.”
Mawonga pleaded and said: “I understand that the protesters are fighting for our freedom but they need to stop vandalising the varsities, they are not helping us in any way. They are only damaging the futures of those who are still to go.”
Mahlangabeza said his parents were worried about the FeesMustFall movement because they wanted to see him furthering his studies.
“I am sure my parents don’t want to see me taking a gap year because of the situation that the universities are currently facing, they wish to see me becoming something in life.”
X-Ziavia Malthy’s, a pupil at Groenberg High in Grabouw, said that her family was worried about her cousin’s future as a university student.
“He needs to write his exams, how will he be able to write if this Fees Must Fall movement continues?
“This is something we always talk about in the house, we see where the students are coming from, the government said that there will be free education and now the promise are not being fulfilled. Yes, we see what they are trying to do but this is not the right way of doing it.”