How can the #Feesmustfall Campaign be Justified

How can the #Feesmustfall Campaign be Justified?

The #FeesMustFall campaign began in South Africa in 2015, sparked by proposed university fee increases that sparked widespread protests among students. Many who support the movement argue that it represents an essential fight against systemic inequality in the education system, a carry-over from apartheid’s damaging legacy. On the other hand, critics question the feasibility of free higher education and the disruptive methods used during the campaign. This article aims to explore the reasons that justify the #FeesMustFall campaign.

How can the #Feesmustfall Campaign be Justified

Education as a Right, Not a Privilege

The central premise of the #FeesMustFall movement is that higher education should be accessible to all, regardless of socioeconomic status. This idea aligns with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “Everyone has the right to education.” The campaign argues that the prohibitive cost of university fees directly violates this right, making education a privilege of the wealthy rather than a fundamental human right.

A Response to Socioeconomic Disparity

South Africa has one of the highest rates of income inequality globally, and the cost of higher education tends to exacerbate this divide. High university fees disproportionately affect disadvantaged students, creating an unbalanced system where only those who can afford tuition have access to higher education. By campaigning for the abolition of university fees, the #FeesMustFall movement seeks to rectify this socioeconomic disparity, promoting equal opportunities for all students.

Breaking the Cycle of Debt

For many students, accessing higher education means taking on significant debt, which can take years, if not decades, to repay. This reality creates a cycle of debt that can be challenging to break free from and can limit opportunities later in life. The #FeesMustFall campaign argues that education should not burden students with such financial strain.

Investment in the Future

The #FeesMustFall movement suggests that free higher education should be seen as an investment in the future of the country. By educating its citizens, a country is investing in its own socio-economic development. A well-educated population is generally more equipped to create innovative solutions, start businesses, and contribute meaningfully to society.

International Precedent

Several countries, notably in Europe, offer free or highly subsidized higher education. These countries recognize the social and economic benefits of an educated populace and work to minimize financial barriers to higher education. The existence of such systems globally lends credibility to the demands of the #FeesMustFall campaign.

Disadvantages: Critiques and Counter-Arguments

Despite the justifications mentioned above, the #FeesMustFall campaign has faced criticism. Some argue that a fully subsidized education is financially unsustainable for the government and that resources could be better spent elsewhere. Others suggest that instead of making all education free, there should be a greater focus on scholarships and grants for those who need it most.

Critics also question the disruptive tactics employed during the campaign, such as protests and strikes, which can impact learning. They argue that such methods might detract from the broader aim of improving education access.


While the #FeesMustFall campaign has its critics, the justifications for the movement are potent. The campaign sheds light on a significant issue of access and equality in education. It calls for a fundamental rethinking of how education is funded and who should bear that cost. If anything, the #FeesMustFall campaign opens up the debate about the nature of education as a human right, its role in fostering socio-economic equality, and the responsibilities of the state in ensuring its access.


  1. South African History Online (SAHO): A non-partisan people’s history project, SAHO is a valuable resource for historical context and analysis of the #FeesMustFall campaign.
  2. Mail & Guardian: As one of South Africa’s leading independent news sources, it provided real-time reporting and analysis during the #FeesMustFall protests.
  3. Al Jazeera: Al Jazeera’s English language website has reported extensively on the #FeesMustFall protests, providing a global context.
  4. The Conversation Africa: The site publishes articles written by academics and researchers. There are several in-depth analyses about #FeesMustFall from various perspectives.
  5. BBC News: As an international media outlet, BBC offers balanced coverage of worldwide events, including the #FeesMustFall campaign.
  6. African Arguments: This website provides commentary and analysis on African politics, including South Africa’s #FeesMustFall campaign.
  7. Daily Maverick: This independent online newspaper is known for its in-depth and investigative journalism and covered the #FeesMustFall campaign extensively.
  8. Times LIVE: A major South African news website, Times LIVE reported on the #FeesMustFall campaign as it was unfolding.
  9. SABC News: The South African Broadcasting Corporation is a national public broadcaster. It covered the #FeesMustFall campaign on its news platform.
  10. News24: This is South Africa’s leading digital news brand, and it provides extensive coverage of current events, including the #FeesMustFall campaign.

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