At the end of the day the #FeesMustFall movement is an expression of desire, an opinion expressed by young adults battling to make sense of being thrust into a chaotic world.
Free education is a noble ideal and a strong rallying cry in any quest for votes and power.
But, we need to be questioning why we as parents and leaders have allowed the hope of our country to fall into anarchy and lash out at the very womb that seeks to make their lives better.
Where did we fail in allowing our youth to become cannon fodder in an action in which we will all fail whilst faceless, nameless old people revel in the chaos caused?
War after war, action after action has been fought by the old using the young in the frontline – in Vietnam the average soldier was 19 years-old, the Arab Spring used the youth, South Africa’s 1976 youth uprising saw schoolchildren run amok to begin change.
South Africa came to democracy without major internal bloodshed – our leaders sat down and negotiated, stood firm against those who sought to destabilise our nation and promised our youth that things would be better, that we would offer free education for all.
Instead we then embarked on an orgy of state and private looting and misguided spending that robbed our youth of the chance of ever rising to excellence. We should be embarrassed at the legacy we have left behind of crooked deals and backroom moves that were jaw dropping in their audacity.
In short – we lost our youth in our scrabble for the next money making deal.
Instead of taking our cue from those socialist and communist countries that supported our leaders in exile and promoting excellent education that was absorbing, stimulating and world class we embarked on a failed Outcomes Based Education with ever decreasing pass limits to massage the failure of our pathetic spending and promotion of education.
We completely missed the bus with education which is the one thing to leave as a lasting legacy.
Now we are having to deal with a ‘monster’ that we created over the last 20 or so years of complete mismanagement and it is turning into a conflagration – buildings burning, universities shut down, racism rearing it’s ugly head, angry students, confused parents, reeling taxpayers, worried accommodation providers, student focused business concerned and ratepayers ticked off.
Question: What have we accomplished then?
Short Answer: Nothing
Question: How do we fix this?
Short Answer: Even Solomon in all his wisdom will battle with this one.
All I can offer is this, though:
#FeesMustFall members please ponder on the fact that by escalating your cause into violence, threats and lashing out on Social Media you are not doing your cause any good. You need to win the hearts and minds of all of us in order to enjoy continued support. At one stage you were on a good wicket and had support from many varied structures, parties and people. You forget one very important premise; “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” that you were garnering support from. But, when stuff went pear shaped you lost that support and those people who supported you turned on you. When that happened you lost focus and made the #FeesMustFall all about a horde of other stuff like #ScienceMustFall, decolonised education etc.
Guys (and Girls) your Generals failed you – instead of regrouping and focusing your attention on the main prize – #FeesMustFall – they allowed you to fragment the message and the group whilst new ‘leaders’ rose up eager for their 5 minutes of fame. It was at that point that your leaders should have pulled back, re-assessed and allowed the universities to resume classes ‘under the protection of the #FeesMustFall movement’. Imagine the power that that ONE SIMPLE MOVE would have granted you?
Remember a war is only won after successfully winning a series of battles – the good General knows when to advance and when to retreat. This ‘war’ will not be won today and part of your strategy should include winning a battle at the polls because we know that this ‘war’ will continue beyond the next general elections. Only then will you be able to influence and effect real change.