Wits SRC Statement 18 September 2016:The Wits SRC has spent the last few months in constant engagement with a variety of stakeholders on issues facing the higher education sector. As we draw closer to the historic one year anniversary of #FeesMustFall and the October 6 Insourcing movement we are reminded of the fact that access to education remains highly restricted. We are also at that time of year where the university is attempting to suggest a possible fee increment. We therefore see it fit to notify our students on the current situation.
A commission was set up by the President of the Republic that is currently investigating the feasibility of free education in our South African context. We reject the fact that the commission is investigating the mere feasibility instead of investigating the modalities of how to realize free and quality education. We are tired of talk shops and task teams without implementation. We reject them in their entirety. We also note that the Insourcing Task Team at Wits has failed to properly implement insourcing and has continued to undermine workers through in principle agreements without implementation. In fact the State continues to undermine students by shifting the focus to a fee increment when the greater focus should be free education. We will not be derailed by these delay tactics. Our demands are clear: the realisation of a free, decolonized and quality education as well as a moratorium on fee increments up until the implementation of free education. In this current climate - with a very young population, high unemployment rates, a plateaued economic growth and a growing skills gap - we cannot view access to education as a privilege. The question should not be whether South Africa can afford free education but can we afford NOT to have free and quality education. We cannot every year protest for a moratorium, there needs to be a greater structural solution to the crisis that is higher education. Merely freezing fees every year is not opening up access. We could not afford the fees in 2015, and we still can’t afford them today, thus the call for free, quality and equal education. We have further been informed that the Minister of Higher Education and Training – Blade Nzimande will be making an announcement tomorrow around the issue of fees and higher education. Should the Minister fail to address the urgent call for free education and seek to divide the student movement by putting forward a haphazard fee increment for 2017, we will be forced to act.