South Africa’s Youth Day
On 16 June 1976, 40 years ago youth mobilized and demonstrated, initially in Soweto but it spread through out the country. Youth boycotted apartheid education and marched against tyranny in education. Afrikaans was being forced into schools not just as a subject but also as a medium of education. The quality of education was poor.
Last year we saw youth on campuses marching against increases in fees. #Fees must fall and #Rhodes must fall became a popular movement, gaining widespread support. But then the protests began to be marred by violent acts of aggression against lecturers, destruction of property and general chaos leading to disruptions of education.
Many issues were raised about higher education, ranging from those who called for free higher education, transformation of the curriculum, replacement of white and other racial groups in the Higher education by African lecturers and demand for better facilities in terms of accommodation food etc.
Are these demands really transformative demands? This questions leads to the important issue of what does transformation mean? Gandhiji alluded to his idea of transformation in Hind Swaraj or Indian self rule in respect of India. He talked about the need to think differently from the colonial perspective.
The colonial perspective is dominated by self preservation and aggrandizement. The opposite of this is communal thinking and looking at what is beneficial for the community. Some of these ideas were introduced when the compulsive community service was introduced into the training of professionals. However in looking into what is the content of education and who imparts education, these ideas are not taken into account and instead value is placed on degrees obtained from the same colonial institutions.
Value is placed on the one who demands the highest fee and a large portion of University grant is spent on remuneration again entrenching the idea of higher remuneration will buy the best skills. Attention is also paid to the racial proportions rather than the ideological stance.
In this set up then what transformation can be expected and what is the direction of transformation? These are vital debates that need to dominate young minds to produce real leaders of tomorrow.