The Wits Mail&Guardian society held a discussion on the state of tertiary education.

Wits student organisation, the Mail&Guardian society hosted former and current Student Representative Council (SRC) presidents for a discussion on the state of tertiary education after the Fees Must Fall protests.

The event, moderated by broadcaster Flo Letoaba, took place at Solomon Mahlangu House, on Monday, April 29, and included Orediretse Masebe, Mcebo Dlamini and Sisanda Mbolekwa*.

Mbolekwa, 21, the current SRC president, opened the discussion by highlighting the difficulties faced by black students in institutions of higher learning. “As black bodies in this space my experience of university is going to be fundamentally different to that of my peer who drives onto campus with my parent’s dream car.”

Mbolekwa emphasised that there are systems in place which keep people at a disadvantage. “The relationship between our disadvantaged lived experiences and academic performance is an intricate and complex one and should be treated as such. We are not removed from our socio-economic backgrounds,” Mbolekwa said.

“You cannot control how people must react and fees must fall was a reaction to oppression; as students we were rejecting the white culture that we grew up in and conscientising ourselves through black power”, Dlamini said. Dlamini, final year LLB, argued that students are colonised when they enter the university and the failure to assimilate led to the Fees Must Fall movement.

Zenade Sibiya, 3rd year film and television, said “I can’t relate to what happened in 2015. I can relate to protests in 2019 because I was affected by outstanding balances and accommodation crisis, the conversations we should be having are how we can move together from this as many of us are affected”.

Black Business Council Bonolo Ramokhele, one of the panellists spoke about the shortcomings of the financial system in South Africa.

He told Wits Vuvuzela, “I believe the money in the country is there but the people who control the money are not putting it where it should go to and I think there should be more intricate discussions about this.”

After recounting their experiences of the Fees Must Fall protests, discussion digressed from its topic but Letoaba brought the issue back into focus.

“We digressed a bit but all of that speaks to the passion that students have about the fees issues and the state of tertiary education but we did eventually get to the right path and answered some of the questions especially that of student accommodation and others”, sahe said.

*Sisanda Mbolekwa is a current member of the Wits Vuvuzela team.

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FEATURED IMAGE: Moderator Flo Letoaba on the left with the panellists for the Wits Mail&Guardian society at Solomon Mahlangu House at Wits University. Photo: Jabulile Mbatha.