Black Management Forum on #FeesMustFall protests - CNBC Africa

Black Management Forum on #FeesMustFall protests

Southern Africa

by Tendai Dube 0

Free education needs to change from being a cost but to be seen as an investment Maja said. Photo: Jay Caboz

The Black Management Forum Student Chapter says that socio-economic transformation in South Africa has to start with education, this comes on the back of President Jacob Zuma's announcement that there will be a zero per cent increase in tuition fees for 2016 for higher education institutes.

The narrative now is whether this victory should be celebrated as students continue protests for free education instead, as well as how these institutions will be able to adjust to the loss they will incur.

"We welcome it, we see it as an achievement, their work has yielded some results," said Godfrey Maja, National Chairperson of The Black Management Forum Student Chapter.

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He acknowledges the zero per cent increase in 2016 as "symbolic" that government is trying to reach out, even if it was after much pressure from the students but that it is not enough to not have an increase.

"The zero per cent means almost nothing to the very students who were in the streets, when they go back to do their financials with their parents they'll notice it means nothing," Maja said.

The short-term goal he says, was to make sure the increase did not happen but the longer term issue and bigger issue is about access to higher education for everyone regardless of whether they can afford it or not.

Maja said the perception of free education needs to change from being a cost but to be seen as an investment.

"And this requires all stakeholders, especially business and government to work together and start re-channelling and redirecting existing expenditure patterns and start driving those funds to education," he said.

Maja added: "There are a lot of uncoordinated efforts by different parties, bursary schemes and internships, people are trying, people recognise the need to actually build the society in which they do business."

However he believes there has been a "dismissive attitude" towards the students' demand for free education.

"I don't see a willingness to actually engage, we are saying - business, open your minds to the possibility of this and how you can participate in achieving it," said Maja.

"The foundation to transforming industry is transforming industry because you cannot want to transform industry if firstly you have not created enough so-called transformation candidates.

"Socio-economic transformation must first start in the institutions; it must start with education, that's where we develop leaders, that’s where we develop leaders, where we will develop a different way of doing things and also relating across the rational divide.

He says institutions should be opened that will also transform the culture, to "transform the pedagogy", the content of the curriculum.

"The more you empower these people is the more they can influence processes of teaching, you can't transform culturally and otherwise, without transforming economically."

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