With the resurgence of #FeesMustFall protests this year, it’s obvious that students do not attend university in a vacuum. For many, their parents play a large role in getting them there in the first place and paying for their fees and additional expenses. The Daily Vox team spoke to some parents who are either involved in the current student protests directly, or have children who are.
First, we spoke to a worker who played a large role in the #EndOutsourcing movement at Wits in 2015, who acknowledged the role that students played in getting her a fair wage.
Deliwe Mzobe – parent and worker leader at Wits
[dropcap]”[/dropcap]I’m one of the outsourced workers that benefited from the insourcing campaign. I think we need to thank the students for shaking up the government because I’m living proof of that. It’s not much, but today I’m earning R6, 000 because of the students. I’m also here as a parent to support the students in the struggle for free education. We cannot afford, as parents, to sit at home while our kids are being shot at and teargassed, for demanding free education.“
Meanwhile, this mother doesn’t appreciate the money wasted while university is shut down. But she supports the movement nonetheless and has some advice for students.
[dropcap]”[/dropcap]As a parent, I feel that my child’s time is being wasted while she waits for the opportunity to resume learning and that although it is most definitely a good movement, the impasse that it has created is a wasted opportunity. At the same time, it is a much-needed movement so that the government wakes up and addresses the needs of the youth. My thoughts of Blade Nzimande’s announcement are, is what he has claimed really reliable and sustainable considering the number of students there are and will be in the future? There should be a better and more sustainable solution.
I think the way forward for this movement to be successful is that the youth must be prepared to fight hard and sacrifice for this if they want this to be successful. They must not fear the people in power because real power is in the hand of the youth. At the same time, I would urge all the youth not to be moved easily by emotions but to study history and understand the consequences of their actions. They should not be rash but rather be intelligent, logical and rational in their approach and know that they will not win without a hard fight. I hate that my child would lose out on a year since I would lose money and my child has lost a whole year. So thousands or even millions of rands would be lost. I think that at least the students should be given the opportunity to complete this year then start the strike early next year again. Without students enrolling next year, the universities will not be able to run at all since funds will be short. That itself is not sustainable for the university, so it would be a good start.“
This parent believes that a strong statement of support needs to be made.
Stephen Faulkner – parent and organiser for New Trade Union Federation
[dropcap]”[/dropcap]If nothing else, we need to be clear that the levels of repression our students are facing are absolutely appalling. And one can’t be surprised at their reaction – in fact, I welcome their reaction – instead of being passive and being bowed into complete submission. How else are they to fight back if they’re fighting alone? But what we must do is make a very public statement that the privatisation of repression, right across our society, has got to stop – whether it’s bouncers on campus or hired thugs to protect Union Buildings because they’re frightened about their members asking questions about corruption.
We know that the resources for free education are available, we know that this is not a poor country. How can it be bloody poor if you drive through Camps Bay in Cape Town? But what we can say is we shouldn’t be modest about the way in which we want to rearrange the economy. For example, what is the absolute use of spending nearly a trillion rands on nuclear power that is going to serve nobody but the bloody wealthy? Why aren’t we saying down with arms deals and put that money into education? But it will take years, so get organised so that we can be there.”
This mother asks some important questions.
Thandiswa, parent and outsourced worker from Wits
[dropcap]”[/dropcap]I’m an outsourced worker and disturbed parent. I’m wondering because I’m a mother from Soweto who struggled to get an education knowing that university was only a thing for people with money. Today our children are fighting for free quality education that we couldn’t get, that our parents couldn’t get – and at the same time the parents that are funding their children with fees they cannot afford, are still sitting here and asking why. The why is because we cannot afford it. The why is because our children can see that we cannot afford it. Yet the government can afford to give those children the quality education they deserve. Why build millions of houses in Soweto when you won’t give them the quality education that feeds those same houses?
What are we parents doing just sitting here? Why are we not in the streets with them when we know they are being brutalised and cast in violent ways by the media when we ourselves will benefit from the cause? In the last week, how many of our kids have been arrested – how many have been shot? How do you feel as a parent seeing your child sitting at home not being able to finish their studies because of not having the money to fund them?“
And this parent believes that if we want the bigger cause to be achieved, sacrifices must be made.
Haadia Ismail, parent
[dropcap]”[/dropcap]I am in full support of the students and what they’re trying to achieve. I have two kids at Wits. I’m behind them because as a parent you want delivery on promises that were made a long time ago. I understand their (the student movement) frustration at not been taken seriously. I’m not in support of them getting extra security because they seem like a bunch of thugs and hoodlums. My son has been shoved around, I saw it happen as there were video clips.
I’ve had this discussion with my kids over the past couple weeks and it seems, as in the 1970s, every time there’s drastic change in the country it’s spearheaded by student bodies. Unfortunately, there’s always casualties as with every progressive movement. I’m not saying I support the loss of the academic year because that would have an impact on a lot of students financially. They (my children) feel passionately about not having achieved anything in the past year and if they feel they are going to lose out on this year, it will be sad if they lose out on time. But for the greater cause I feel there has to be casualties. The ones who were born in the early 90s are dealing with the aftermath of apartheid. If this is what it’s going to take for the greater good of the bigger cause to be realised, one has to support whatever the outcome is going to be.“