Call for peo­ple s ed­u­ca­tion

Sunday World - - Opinion -

FREE ed­u­ca­tion for all!” is the ral­ly­ing cry for many stu­dents and com­men­ta­tors out there.

Some use the Free­dom Char­ter as their ba­sis for the call while oth­ers use prin­ci­ples such as equal­ity, dig­nity and ac­cess to higher ed­u­ca­tion for all.

All th­ese calls are no­ble, gen­er­ally, but they need to move fur­ther and be rooted in re­al­ity. Put dif­fer­ently, they must be based on a con­crete anal­y­sis of the con­di­tions in South Africa, and not mere wishes.

While the Free­dom Char­ter is an im­por­tant doc­u­ment, a deeper anal­y­sis shows that it not only called for ac­cess to higher ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing but peo­ple’s ed­u­ca­tion for peo­ple’s power. As such, if the “ed­u­ca­tion for all” call is not based on the prin­ci­ple of peo­ple ’ s ed­u­ca­tion for peo­ple’s power it will fiz­zle out and die.

Sadly, this year, like last year, it can be ex­pected that the stu­dents’ call will veer off “Fees Must Fall” to “Blade Must Fall.” This is one of the symp­toms of a call that was never rooted in con­crete anal­y­sis of con­di­tions and had no in­ten­tion to call for peo­ple’s ed­u­ca­tion in the first place.

To re­verse the cri­sis of in­equal­ity, it is un­wise to call for free ed­u­ca­tion for all at this stage. This can only help to widen the in­equal­ity gap al­ways com­plained about. There must nec­es­sar­ily be bias in terms of ap­pli­ca­tion of the prin­ci­ple. Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Min­is­ter Blade Nz­i­mande cor­rectly took the de­ci­sion to con­cen­trate more on those who can­not af­ford to pay.

Rich peo­ple need to pay. Strate­gies to de­ter­mine who is able to af­ford and who is not can be put in place, but the prin­ci­ple is cor­rect.

Tem­bisile Magkatho, by e-mail

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