Top South African University Students Protest Over Hike In School Fees

In a battle between keeping tuition rates affordable and maintaining quality standards of education, students at?South Africa’s top universities continue a wave of protests, demonstrating against plans to increase tuition fees. University administrators argue that?the weaker rand currency has made it almost impossible?for institutions to afford library books, journals, equipment and other learning materials that are paid for in dollars, and are necessary to maintain the high standards expected of such institutions.

The problem is that a?large majority of South Africa’s student body is black and have historically been discriminated against, a disproportionate number of whom cannot afford an increase in fees.

Fee?increases?may also undermine any measures to improve equality and level the playing field among the student body. The African National Congress (ANC), the country’s?governing social democratic political party issued a statement condemning the fee increases as “exclusionary” and allude that the protests “underscore the very important call that affordability cannot be the barometer that is used to determine whether the youth of our country have access to education – the only tool with which we can transform the world as immortalized by Former ANC President Nelson Mandela”.

This comes after a backlash, where last month, students at Stellenbosch University demanded to be taught in English rather than Afrikaans, the language they identify with oppression and apartheid rule?that ended over a decade ago.

So far negotiations have failed, particularly between school?officials and students at Wits university, and students continue to stand their ground against increases in student fees. Rhodes University has suspended classes, and barricades were erected at entrances to the University of Cape Town earlier on Monday.

At the heart of it all is whether students even have a right to protest over tuition fee increases.

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