The Fees Commission held its first hearing in Pretoria today.
Leaders of the South African Union of Students (SAUS) have reaffirmed their call for free education by 2017. Speaking at the Fees Commission in Pretoria, Wits SRC secretary general and deputy secretary of SAUS, Fasiha Hassan took the stand along with SAUS president Avela Mjujubana and secretary general Sthembiso Ndlovu to give their recommendations to the the Commission which was appointed by President Zuma to look into the possibility of free higher education and training.
EWN reported that Hassan made it clear that students cannot bear the brunt of fees and it was the state and private sector’s responsibility to make contributions. Hassan pointed out that the system was structurally racist.
“It seeks to exclude the black child at all levels,” she said.
But Wits Vice-Chancellor, Adam Habib, who also appeared at the Commission today, suggested that instead of focusing on fees alone, students should be given more options than just going to university in order to secure their futures.
“It’s not ideal that every student goes to university, but every student must have a future,” he said.
SAUS president Avela Mjujubana feels that free education is possible and must be reserved for the poor and missing middle. Mjujubana suggested various ways in which the money could be raised including cutting the salaries of ministers, mayors and former presidents, nationalisation of mines and banks, and high tax for the rich in the private sector.
SAUS further criticised the commission for lagging in its mandate. “Patience is running out. Student protests were suspended on the basis of this commission,” Ndlovu said.
SAUS wasn’t the only organisation that criticised the Fees Commission, Wits Eff tweeted “Commission have not done a lot for black people, like TRC or Marikana commision, #FeesCommission is going to be as useless”
— Wits EFF (@WitsEFF) August 10, 2016
Even former Wits SRC deputy president, Shaeera Kalla, said in a series of tweets “We need a free education model not an audit on feasibility of free eduction. #FeesCommission must take us seriously”
It has been 10 months with nothing and they still expect students to understand a delay. We can’t be sitting ducks comrades. #FeesCommission
— Shaeera Kalla (@shaeera_k) August 10, 2016
The commission will hear submissions tomorrow in Pretoria before moving onto other parts of the country.