#FeesMustFall leaders explain what decolonised education means

 ·26 Oct 2016

Cape Town students are expected to march to Parliament on Wednesday to demand free education at tertiary level in the wake of violence and destruction overnight in Braamfontein in central Johannesburg.

Protesting students again took to the streets to make their voices heard and torched a police vehicle and a bus.

The Fees Must Fall movement in the Western Cape put out a statement on Wednesday calling on all citizens of this country to descend to parliament and other strategic institutions as part of a ‘national day of action’.

“Taking inspiration from the youth of 1976 who defiantly stood against the apartheid state in its quest to further subjugate the black mind through enforcing an anti-black curriculum, #FeesMustFall seeks to fulfil a generational call,” the statement said.

What is Fees Must Fall?

The statement said that Fees Must Fall is a clear call for a free decolonized, afrocentric education. “This call is rooted in the liberation of black people and the total dismantling of the anti-black system that maintains black oppression.”

“Fees Must Fall is an intersectional movement within the black community that aims to bring about a decolonised education. This means that the Fees Must Fall movement is located as a part of the larger struggle to eradicate the western imperialist, colonial, capitalist patriarchal culture,” the statement said.

What is a Decolonised Education?

Those behind the #FeesMustFall movement noted that South Africa inherited a system of education which is in many ways both inadequate and inappropriate for the new state.

Its inadequacy is most immediately obvious, especially since the protests of Fees Must Fall in 2015, they said.

“The education system is based upon exclusion on race, class, gender and sexual difference whereas the whole apartheid edifice and its extension in post 1994 under the supposed control of a black government has been based upon a rejection of the building blocks that created it.”

The statement said that history of colonialism and apartheid in South Africa, reflects a need of capital to be sustained through a pool of cheap, unskilled black labor for the mining and production industries.

Read: Scrap science and start all over: #FeesMustFall students

These structural inequalities that were maintained during apartheid, it said, manifested in the 1953 Bantu’s Education Act.

“From this it is clear that the education system was designed to thwart the liberation of the black child, in so doing keeping them in the same position as the generations before them through coercion and chicanery.

“The transition of South Africa in 1994 shows this clearly, and the government did very little to undermine nor rectify this socio-economic structure,” the statement said.

The movement argued that the current anti-black curriculum is designed to reproduce systems of oppression. “This anti-black education is driven by the exclusion of the majority.”

“Currently in South Africa, the education system is not designed for the interests of the black community, but those who intend to preserve the status quo which is a colonial education,” FMF said.


In the statement, the movement’s representatives call on Minister Bonginkosi “Blade” Nzimande and the South African state to:

  • Make provision for funding free Afrocentric  education up until undergraduate degree a reality for all excluded black people. An education that is rooted in putting black people first; both in learning content, how it is transferred.
  • Scrap all historical debt dating back to 1992, recognizing that debt is one of the key challenges hindering black graduates from making a meaningful impact on the economy and improving the lives of their families.
  • End Outsourcing – Insource all workers, paying all a decent living wage and ensuring full institutional benefits for employees.
  • A national commission based on justice for students and workers. Immediate demilitarisation of campuses, insourced security must serve to protect students and workers, all students and workers who have been suspended, interdicted, expelled, dismissed, financially and/or academically excluded must return; this as the basis for commission to seek justice for participants in the broader #FeesMustFall Struggle.

More on #FeesMustFall

Zille compares #FeesMustFall to apartheid, calls it a ‘threat to the future’

Watch: #FeesMustFall protestors try to tip over a bus

8 critical elements to the #FeesMustFall debate

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