Sunday World

Students command is the EFF’S gift to education

Vanguard protects rights to education

- Sinawo Thambo • Sinawo Thambo is head of presidency in the EFF

One of the products of the committed struggle waged by the EFF in the landscape of South Africa has been the establishm­ent of its student movement, the Economic Freedom Fighters Students Command (EFFSC).

Establishe­d in accordance with the resolution­s of the first National People’s Assembly of the EFF, the EFFSC was formally launched on June 16 2015 as a movement that would echo the cries and bravery of the 1976 Soweto Uprising generation.

This student vanguard was tasked with the primary duty of mobilising students behind the banner of economic freedom, with a comprehens­ive understand­ing that there is no liberation that can be achieved on campuses without liberation in broader society.

It has undoubtedl­y had a marked effect on the lives of ordinary poor students, who would normally be turned away at the gates of a higher education sector that is defined by capitalist and racist knowledge production and elitism that determines who participat­es in the tertiary sector on the basis of money.

It is therefore no coincidenc­e that the formation of the EFFSC coincided with one of the most organised, militant and national uprisings on university and TVET college campuses post-1994 in the form of what is popularly known as the Fees Must Fall Movement.

Imbued with a working-class character and the revolution­ary defiance that the EFF brought to a liberal body politic in the country, the EFFSC laboured to create an identity that is defined by selfless struggle.

It is from this moment that the EFFSC organised itself around the “Sizofunda Ngenkani” mantra, and has thus far achieved remarkable victories not only for the student populace, but for workers within the higher education sector.

Any organisati­on, however, must determine its progress and measure its achievemen­ts based on the objectives set for itself.

• Mobilising students behind the struggle for economic freedom embodied in the EFF founding manifesto.

• Pursuit of radical higher education transforma­tion with the aim towards free, quality and well-resourced education.

• Championin­g the interests of students and all workers in institutio­ns of higher learning.

• Building a dynamic relationsh­ip between students and community struggles.

• Participat­ing in progressiv­e internatio­nal campaigns and programmes.

• Promoting academic and research excellence and progress.

• Contributi­ng to intellectu­al and ideologica­l discourse in a manner that seeks to promote the struggle for economic freedom.

It is from these clear-cut objectives that we will measure the victories of the student wing of the economic emancipati­on movement. The first notable victory and contributi­on to the academic sector is how in efforts to shift academia from its capitalist and racist underpinni­ngs, the EFFSC challenged what is taught, who teaches, how knowledge is taught and its purpose in institutio­ns of higher learning. This can be seen in case studies such as the University of Pretoria and the University of Stellenbos­ch at the level of challengin­g a language policy that sought to entrench “volkdom” by having public institutio­ns of higher learning that taught fields in the Afrikaans language.

The call for Afrikaans Must Fall gained prominence, culminatin­g in the abandoning of the language as a primary medium of instructio­n.

Rallying calls such as this, accompanie­d by demands to diversify representa­tion of lecturers and senior professors, inclusion of black intellectu­al scholarshi­p and developmen­tal and purpose-driven research that speaks to the realities of our society, are an invaluable contributi­on by the EFFSC to a broader discourse.

May the EFF live long and may the EFF Students Command continue being a spear in the hands of the vulnerable. Happy anniversar­y, EFF!

The EFFSC holds the following seven nonnegotia­ble principles as a guide to its revolution­ary struggle:

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