I have been biting my tongue regarding this for quite some time now, as I wasn’t too sure if it really fell under the platform that Official Dragon Mommy falls under, but at the current rate of events, I think that it is so worth delving into. I mentioned some time back some of the issues that I faced while studying in my article “being-a-working-mom-student“.
The sad reality is that it was not my first encounter with student movements. Let’s back track to 2007 when I started studying and I can remember being asked to enter the university grounds cautiously as there were students pelting police officials and other students with stones. Fast forward a little to 2010 when I decided to move my focus into a different faculty, and the entire period up until 2016, every single start of the year with registrations and towards the end with final exams, did we have to endure some form of student protest activity. Each year getting progressively worse than its preceding year.
When you’re a student, you tend to stand on the outskirts and watch the happenings as it usually involved some light protesting and singing. Things started to get out of hand when we once had someone barge into our class mid-lecture whilst my lecturer ( a very strict one at that) was trying to explain a really tricky concept to us. He completely ignored her, started to tell us that we didn’t have to stand for this rubbish education and then told my lecturer to leave before she got hurt. She in turn told him to leave and then when we begged him to leave as the section in question counted a great part towards our final exam, another protester came in and advised that we needed to vacate the premises for our own safety.
Another incident was during registration, we had all been patiently waiting to register as it is a tedious process, when we heard the doors hastily being shut and were told we needed to stay put until it was safe. Turns out some students were protesting outside the building and threatening to tear it down if they weren’t able to register without making payment.
What is the point to all this?
The reality is that university fees is exorbitantly high, yes, but it also does not mean that there have not been means and ways to get by if you really wanted to. I was once called privileged and I almost burst out laughing because when it came to my tertiary education, I was nothing but.
I had to apply for almost 50+ bursaries (only received one positive response, the rest have been filed for motivation), I had to sit for almost a week with the Credit Management Unit, just waiting to make a credit arrangement so that I could register, and then had to work 2 jobs just to put myself through university. Adding to that I also got married in that time and had Cupcake, during which Superman too was a student, but even though life was a hustle, we made it work (ALGHAMDULILAH) . To say that that period of my life whipped my behind with a lesson of humility is an understatement, while my friends were partying and socializing, I had to work. The best part was that I had friends who were in similar circumstances, we all had to truly bust our behinds in order to make something of our lives.
What these students are doing has escalated to such an extent that it no longer rationalizes their end game. Free education in our country in its current condition is a pipe dream. If we truly wanted to make a difference then lets start at the beginning, provide free education to those at primary school level so that they are able to reach a secondary education, this is where the change needs to happen. So many have decided to leave school by the time they reach secondary education, that tertiary education no longer becomes an option for them.
In retrospect, tertiary education is actually a privilege in itself, but at the rate that these institutions are being violated, we are not only ruining the chances of those who want to finish, but we are jeopardizing the future of the country in its entirety. I know that I will receive a lot of heat for making that statement, but the truth is that even 6 months into the first year of university, statistically a third of students will have dropped out because they realized that tertiary studies is not for them or the field that they chose is not for them. And that is okay, that’s what adulthood is all about, but at present, nobody is going anywhere because the cogs in the wheels have been totally removed and we are at a standstill.
I would love to live in a country of free education, but in the current economic and societal climate, there are too many greater issues at hand. People need housing, access to basic needs like water, children need care because the amount of those being abandoned is too great, my list could go on and on.
On another stand point, we need to change our mentality that by throwing a tantrum things would get done sooner, it won’t. Burning universities down won’t make them free, burning trains won’t improve our public transport system, stealing from street vendors won’t increase jobs and sitting complaining about it all won’t change a damn thing.
So here’s my thinking, if we truly want to make a difference anywhere, then we should get off our butts and do something about it. Want to study at university level? Work that crappy job to get yourself through! Struggling to register because of debt? The universities Credit Management unit is amazing at assisting because the more subjects you pass, the lower your installment, GENIUS!
We are meant to struggle to teach us humility, ask for help if need be, if it doesn’t come knocking, make those opportunities happen, but don’t bastardize an entire institution just to justify that which is but a small component of issues that we as a country face.
Always with Love & Peace