In South Africa, there have been demonstrations and protests by university students about the proposed increase of 10.5% to student fees, which would disproportionately impact poor (and usually black) students. The protests began last week at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and the photos coming out of the protests are incredibly powerful. Buzzfeed News wrote about what you need to know about this issue, saying in particular that:
The issue, student leaders say, is higher education is currently available for only the children of the wealthy and is out of reach for the majority of South Africa’s black population.
This image. Wow. 🔥🔥🔥 #FeesMustFall #MbokodoLead pic.twitter.com/KoPaQSnuhl
— Thabang (@JustBang_) October 22, 2015
But these demonstrations and protests have been met with violent opposition from police, who have been sending in rubber bullets and tear gas to the protesters. Christopher Torchia wrote about how violent the South African police has gotten in response to the students and also wrote about how universities in the country need to be more access and that:
Some South African leaders have said the country’s education system is still trying to overcome the legacy of a system of racist rule that favored the white minority while denying basic rights and opportunities for the black majority.
We have called for the white allies to make a human shield to protect us. They have obliged. High white discipline ✊ #UCTshutdown
— Rhodes Must Fall (@RhodesMustFall) October 20, 2015
One thing to also acknowledge is how white students and allies have stepped up to help their black peers. If you ever wonder how to be a white ally, the image here is definitely one way (if you’re able to of course). Beenish Ahmed wrote about how white students started to form human shields to protect black student protesters from police and also highlighted the inequality and racism that exists in South Africa and why so many are protesting:
Many of those protesting are doing so because they say an increase in tuition would disproportionately impact the country’s black population, which tends to earn far less than the white minority. Some have even said that the tuition hike would help to replicate the social structures of Apartheid.
Twitter has offered up to date news, photos, and videos of the protests under the hashtag #FeesMustFall. And it sounds like Jacob Zuma, the South Africa president, has recently announced that there will actually be no fee increases! (Although that’s just one issue about accessiblity to higher education!)
To those who protested in what ways you could, I am 100% behind your work! Higher education should be way more accessible and not just something that those with wealth and resources attain.