The future of Tertiary Education in South Africa

The last few weeks there has been a lot of press about the riots and protests that are happening at University’s around the county.

As a Mom with children that one day will need to attend University I find this incredibly disturbing. The media shows riots, police shooting rubber bullets, students burning buildings and  vandalizing property. Burning books because they said that they were colonial. This is not the way we expect educated individuals to behave and worst of all, the reason for the above behavior is due to the fact that the students are demanding free Tertiary Education.

Take responsability

Let me begin by saying that yes I grew up in the error of Apartheid, I matriculated long before Nelson Mandela and the change in our Nation. The thing is that I grew up with a family that was financially battling. I had a part time job after school from the age of 16, which included week and weekend work. I worked hard to juggle school and bring in some much needed money to ensure that I could have the things in life that were considered extras. These things were not a given or expected, they were appreciated as they were treats. Once I Matriculated my family still had another two children that they were putting through school so a Tertiary Education was not even an option. So I did what was needed and before the end of the year I had a job at a retail store where I worked full time for a number of years. Only in my adult life have I been able to further my education as it was just too expensive for my family when I was growing up. I do not look back at it as a negative or a disappointment or not fair, because when we were growing up we were not raised with an attitude of entitlement. We did not expect, we were grateful, and whatever life threw at us we grabbed it by the horns and ran with it.

I believe one hundred percent that every child deserves the right to an education, and I am so glad that our country is in a position where we are able to educate our children no matter of their upbringing. With that said, I still stand by the fact the Tertiary Education is not a right, it is a privilege. If you do not qualify or cannot afford it, well then it is not for you. #FeesMustFall is a load of hogwash. Tertiary Education is a privilege not a right.

What are we teaching our children?

The lesser of two evils

You don’t always have to be the lesser of two evils. When they don’t get what they want, then they must destroy buildings and property, boycott the very classes that they are fighting to be able to attend and act in a manner that is to be honest socially unacceptable. We are encouraging our children to believe that they are superior, and although I am a firm believer in raising children with confidence and self-belief, they are not superior to rules and the law. As far as I am aware arson and looting are against the law and are a punishable offence. So why don’t the youth of this country understand that? Why don’t they understand that when they don’t get what they want, or believe they are entitled to they cannot turn to violence and destruction? The good old saying that two wrongs don’t make a right, says it better than I can. Every human being has the right to an opinion and deserves the right to be heard, but the way in which you choose to communicate and settle disputes also determines how intelligent and educated you are. I would not expect a second grader to be able to voice their opinion and discuss their disputes in the same way I would a University Student. With that being said, I am not sure that the school would tolerate it if the second grader decided to go on a rampage and damage property because they did not agree with their teacher or did not like the fact that they had to do homework.

When we begin raising our children, as parents it is a long hard road to teach them right from wrong. It takes time, dedication and many tears to get it right. We try our best to teach our children to be kind, what is socially acceptable, how to behave, what they can and cannot do. We teach them to have respect for others as well as their positions. We teach them to have manners and become people that the world can be proud of and look up to. If a toddler throws a temper tantrum because they don’t get what they want, do we just sit back and fold to its demands? No we as parents will use whatever method we believe is best to help them understand that their behavior is not acceptable and by behaving in such a manner will not guarantee that their demands will be met, in fact it is usually the opposite, and they will not get what they wanted and will be punished for their behavior. We let them know that we will not tolerate that kind of behavior and they will be duly punished for it.

So how is it that our young adults, the individuals that we are counting on to one day take over from us can throw a temper tantrum and believe that there is nothing wrong with it?

temper tantrum

I believe that one of the mistakes that we as society have made that has fueled the fire is that a decision was made to change the school system. Corporal punishment was harsh and left open an opportunity for abuse, so I do agree with the decision to do away with it. The problem is that there has never been a successful answer to replace it. So through the years the children in schools are being raised with less and less respect. They believe that it is their right to talk beck to teachers. (we were taught that this was cheeky and disrespectful) They are told that they have rights and don’t have to do anything that they don’t want to. So instead of taking ownership, they brush it off as their right. By giving children rights, uniforms have become sloppy, children do as they please, when they feel like it. The respect for educators no longer exists, and they have a preconception of entitlement.

The system has to change. We have to raise our children in the real world and empower them with the tools to deal with real life issues. They cannot be raised with an unrealistic idea that they are in charge and can do as they please. We are doing them such an injustice by withholding and stunting their Emotional quotient. The reality is that when they go out to work, they will have rules that they have to abide by. They will have to arrive and leave when their boss tells them to, they will have to dress within the company guide lines. They will have to do all jobs that are assigned to them, whether they like them or not, as this is what they are being paid to do. They cannot enter a job as the director but will have to work their way up to that post. They will have to put their believes of what they think their rights should be aside, because the bottom line is if they don’t like it, they can leave. This is the real world! This is not the world that we have been showing them how to deal with for the last 12 years that they were at school. There are consequences, demands and sadly nobody cares if you like it or not.

Life without people is not life

This is what has happened to the students at University. Instead of being grateful and honored to be able to be a part of a rare institution that should be an honor and a privilege, they believe that it is their right. When you raise someone to take an amazing opportunity that they are lucky to have and lead them to believe that they are entitled, they lose all respect and gratitude. They begin living in their own little bubble of self-importance and wow is me, that they forget to give thanks for the opportunity that they have been given. This leads to them throwing temper tantrums when someone pops their bubble.  If we don’t take action now, we cannot act surprised when they start burning down houses because they did not get the home loan they applied for.  Or destroy the CEO’s car because they did not get the job.

#FeesMustNotFall University is for the elite graduate professionals. The intellectuals that are going to move on and become the future lawyers, doctors and leaders in their profession. The people who are serious about what they want out of life, and if like me, you cannot afford it well, such is life.

South Africa's in Trouble

We cannot forget that we live in South Africa, not a first world country, (where students still pay for their Tertiary Education.) We are battling to ensure that we have enough water and electricity to supply our county and the 600 million that protests have cost the universities in damages could have gone a long way. In fact, they could have ensured that the 8% increase in fees did not need to be implemented at all. It is the short sited view and behavior of some students that has put you in the position you are today.

Here is a list of the cost of damages at the South African Universities from October last year to April this year, never mind the latest destruction, this is as per Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande

University Damages
Rhodes University R250 000
University of Johannesburg R345 000
Walter Sisulu University R351 287
Universities of Stellenbosch R352 000
Cape Peninsula University of Technology R689 850
Wits University R1 410 223
Limpopo R1 786 294
Free State University R2 800 000
University of Cape Town R3 200 000
University of Zululand R4 500 000
Tshwane University of Technology R5 073 747
Universitie of KwaZulu Natal R82 000 000
University of the Western Cape R46 544 446
North West R151 000 000

So Students I urge you to stop, think and be thankful. Do not destroy your beautiful University’s, but behave as the educated individuals you are and help us ensure that our children will have a University to attend when they are your age. #UniversitysMustContinue

Magic Moms would love to hear your comments and views. Please let us know if you have an idea or solution as to how we can encourage our students to move forward. Feel free to comment below or send me a mail to theresa@magicmoms.co.za. You can also join us on social media.

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