SIX Reasons Why the Students Decided to Launch the #FeesMustFall Campaign

Title: Understanding the #FeesMustFall Movement: The Catalyst for Student Activism in South Africa

The #FeesMustFall campaign was a student-led protest movement that started in South Africa in 2015. The students called for the decolonisation of education and an end to rising tuition fees, amongst other demands. It was an emphatic response to social inequalities that were glaringly prevalent in the South African education system. This article provides an in-depth examination of the reasons why students decided to launch the #FeesMustFall campaign.

SIX Reasons why the Students Decided to Launch the #FeesMustFall Campaign

  1. Increase in University Tuition Fees: One of the primary reasons that led to the formation of the #FeesMustFall movement was the announcement by universities across South Africa of significant increases in tuition fees. The students protested that the higher education costs were prohibitive, making it difficult, if not impossible, for many South Africans, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to pursue tertiary education.
  2. Inaccessibility of Quality Education: The escalation in tuition fees served as a barrier to access quality education, thereby perpetuating economic and social disparities. The campaign emphasized the demand for equal opportunities for all, regardless of economic background. It criticized the government and institutions for maintaining a system that favored the affluent while marginalizing the poor.
  3. Decolonisation of Education: The students demanded the decolonisation of education, meaning a shift away from Eurocentric academic standards and towards a curriculum that better reflects and respects African knowledge systems. They argued that the education system was a colonial leftover, with a strong bias towards Western ideologies and knowledge.
  4. Insufficient Financial Aid: Despite the existence of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) in South Africa, many students felt that the aid provided was insufficient. They were left in a financially precarious position, often having to choose between basic necessities and academic expenses. This inadequacy of financial support triggered resentment and dissatisfaction amongst students.
  5. Structural Inequalities: The structural inequalities inherent in South African society, underlined by the nation’s history of apartheid, played a crucial role in the rise of the #FeesMustFall movement. Students saw the prohibitive cost of higher education as another form of systemic discrimination, effectively excluding a significant portion of the population from further study.
  6. Governmental Disinvestment in Education: Over the years, the South African government has decreased its contribution to higher education funding. This has led universities to increase fees to maintain their operational costs. Students condemned this gradual withdrawal of governmental support as a dereliction of duty to the nation’s youth.

The #FeesMustFall campaign was a clear and powerful response to systemic social, economic, and academic inequalities that were embedded in South Africa’s higher education system. It represented the frustrations and aspirations of a generation seeking a just, accessible, and inclusive education for all.

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