If you come from a poor background you will agree with me that last year of your degree is the longest year of your study. Your poor parents and siblings are slowly dying of hunger and at this point they have a little hope. Poor parents and siblings are feeling the cold and hunger under the leaking roof where every time it rains they have to sleep in water and cold and sometimes without eating anything.
Parents at this stage are counting months, very long months. They can see a very thin light coming towards them. A light of a daughter or a son that is about to change their condition.
Shutting down the institutions means the hope for these poor parents and siblings is shut down as well. The light will soon be no more. The rain will continue to pour through the leaking roof. Poor parents and siblings will continue to stay poor and eating nothing but just a little hope.
Legitimate call for free education cannot be an instrument to abuse poor young people for self-interest and self-centred desires. This cannot be used as an opportunity to ride on the poor to the political haven or political paradise. Can we have those students who are poor and not sponsored in any way leading this free education campaign.
Those who have no pressure to complete their degrees or those who are at the higher institutions for pleasure or those that benefits from sponsors must consider the poor. If you are coming from the rich background or you are at higher learning for pleasure or political ambitions, I do not think you deserve any serious attention when you call for free education but at the same time you care less about the poor who will suffer when higher learning is shut down indefinitely.
Can those who already have degrees in their pockets step back and let the undergraduates lead this campaign. Can those who are coming from rich families step back and let the real poor lead their own struggle. Can those who over enjoy university politics and choose not to leave the university step back and let the poor students who are at university fora specific purpose lead their free education campaign.
Those who are fighting so hard to be in the history books must consider the reality of a suffering poor student.
No one is against the free education for the poor or fees must fall call, but we cannot be thinking like people who do not know the challenges we are facing in this country. Reality is that through corruption and other factors, South African economy is not stable at this point and there are certain demands we cannot afford. Reality is South Africa is facing possible downgrading and to stretch our budget by R1bln could be a final push to a junk status. Then the poor suffers more.
We can relocate some money from other areas and put towards free education. We can deal with corruption and find money within our budget for free education. We can push private sector to put money into free education. We can tax the rich to cover free education. But reality is, while we are waiting for all this to happen, poor students cannot afford any delay in completing their studies which for many means crossing line which for many years have been separating them from those who can afford. It is a long-awaited moment for a student coming from Lusikisiki, Nongoma, Giyani, Makhado and many poor rural districts.
The questions we must all ask are; What is the economic status of those who are leading the students to a complete shutdown of institutions? How much of suffering will be incurred by them when institutions are shut down and many poor students lose a semester of their academic year?
Violence is delegitimising a great campaign for the poor. This legit campaign for the poor is important to all of us and it is something to fight for until it is realized. But it must be fought having done proper analysis of the situation we are in. We need to be clear on that free education campaign is only for the poor. If possible let’s define the term “Poor” within the context of our demand for free education.
Who will lose if institutions are completely shut down? Poor or rich? Politicians or poor students?
These are some of the questions that are bothering me in this very important campaign of free education for the poor.