Swazi student protesters put their stamp on 2011
This year has seen young people all over the world stand up and speak out against issues affecting them, their future and their countries.
The most recent example is Swaziland University students protesting after the varsity’s closure on August 8 due to financial problems. It re-opened three weeks later.
Swaziland is in debt and asked for an emergency loan from the South African government, which agreed to assist the kingdom of Swaziland with R2.4-billion.
Tertiary students studying in and outside of Swaziland depend on the government to fund their tertiary fees.
“Almost all the tertiary students’ [fees] and all the fees in the University of Swaziland [specifically] are paid for by government. It’s only a few [students] who are sponsored by individual families,” said Swaziland Students Association (SSA) vice chairperson, Simphiwe Simelane.
Simelane highlighted the fact that a potential contribution to the country’s current crisis was that after graduation students do not return to work for their country, or pay back their loans.
“They [the government] don’t have any mechanisms to track us to really go back there, but by law we have to go back there.”
The kingdom’s scholarship board has allegedly recently awarded scholarships to “only 5% of students intending to study in SA, most of who were relatives to the government bureaucrats”, said a statement circulated among Swazi student associations within South Africa.
Concern about the likelihood of government paying for students in tertiary institutions outside Swaziland is rising.
But chairperson of SSA, Zandile Mtsweni says: “With regards to the ones in South Africa, government has assured that they will pay for everyone although most have been paid for but not everyone.
“But we have received assurance that they will pay and money catering for their fees has been reserved.”
Student protests for change in fee structures within education departments have also occurred in Chile, South America. The University of Fort Hare students also protested after going weeks without water and electricity last month.