Instead of a solution being in sight by now, the “Fees Must Fall” campaign has become even more violent.
More buildings have been vandalised and burned; more people have been hurt.
Universities have been unable to continue the academic year and the final exams are now in jeopardy.
And this has placed massive pressure on the 2017 academic year, not to mention the economic impact of students not graduating.
There’s a great irony here. Students are fighting for fees to be abolished, but are now stuck with fees that are due for a wasted semester.
But never mind, because I am sure that will at least be scrapped.
There’s still this long and protracted battle that doesn’t seem to have an end.
I have suggested that students put their effort into finding an innovative solution that could be applied nationally, and maybe even globally.
It’s clear that torching their own resources is not the answer. It’s also clear that their fight is easily hijacked by criminal elements, as well as students with only violent intentions, instead of revolutionising tertiary education.
There appears to be no regard for the majority of students wanting to attend classes and get on with their lives.
It reminds me of the 80s when some scholars just weren’t politicised enough to get involved in the struggle.
While some were chanting “Liberation before education”, others understood the reality better.
They understood that it was better to liberate the mind first through education, before broader liberation was possible.
Otherwise we all end up being a bunch of uneducated people, who don’t know what to do with our freedom.
It’s an untenable situation that has prevented many African countries growing after independence, because the powerful few take over and retain power.
So where does this leave the #FeesMustFall campaign?
It’s accepted that the students’ battle is a noble one worthy of our support.
I believe most South Africans support the principle, but not the means.
In the end, free tertiary education will benefit the entire country and set us all on a path to well-being.
So we need the entire country to make their voices heard.
Yes, the violent protests may well achieve something, but at what cost?
Like with apartheid, let’s get buy-in from everyone across the world and find a solution.
We gave the world Ubuntu, peaceful political transition and national healing. Now let’s give it prosperity through free education for all.