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Education right or privilege?

  1. Apr 27, 2004 #1
    Education.. right or privilege??

    Yesterday was one hell of a day. I'm from South Africa.. absolutely wikid country and I study in the University of Witwatersrand (best varsity in the country). Well, yesetrday we had the biggest ri0ts since the anti-apartheid ones in '94. It was crazy, the university has cut 50% of its financial aid to students this year. About 3000 students are being forced to leave the university on grounds of academic exclusion/. So yesterday ANCYL and SASCO have a huge boycott thingy, students ran around campus smashing stuff. I was in a lecture and they ran in screaming saying if theye dont get to study neither should we, they physically forced us out of lecture halls. They even ran into the Exams Hall where student were writing an actuarial science paper, and broke financial calculators tore papers up, broke desks and accosted lecturers and students. Its sad that they cut off their financial aid but did they have to violate our right to study???? They were shouting stuff like "Go back to ure mansions in houghton and sandton..". It was as if we were at fault for being able to afford university education? they have even made it a race issue, saying thats its just the black students who are froced out of our university... i dont know, but do u guyz think that issues like these can be solved? If the university cant afford it, should the rest of the students be made to suffer??? our vice-chancellor has responded saying that given the situation of our country (economically), tertiary education,at the mo, is a not a right but a privilge??? wot do u guyz think?
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 27, 2004 #2
    First, pardon me if I use the US teirs for examples. If you have questions, I'll try to explain what each of them is.

    I believe that a basic education should be made available to everyone. In the US, education is handled mostly on a state to state basis (although that seems to be changing), and I prefer it that way. Every child should be able to get a highschool level education.

    However, I'm firmly against free university for everyone. I support measures to aid those that are poor in going to university. I don't think that University is a right! I see the kids that fail classes when mommy and daddy pay their way, and I DESPISE the thought of my tax money going to pay for people like that to go to school.

    The students that came in an disrupted your schooling are in the absolute wrong. There is no place for that behavior, and it should not be tolerated. Every one of them should be locked up.

    In south Africa, you just recently have the ending of government sanctioned racism on the general scale. It will take time for these students to drop the "It's the white peoples' fault"- I wonder what Mandela would think about their actions.
  4. Apr 27, 2004 #3
    race issues. Its always brought up in every crisis. funny, our vice chancellor is black. he is a oxford educated mathematician, he didnt grow up with los of cash around him, he is where he is today coz he worked hard. now he has become the enemy, students have been calling him a coconut (black on the outside and white on the inside). I guess its now a crime to be succesful, i cant believe it has come to this. racial tension is surely going to be heating up now,... does this ever happen on US campuses? i dont even know how long this boycott is going to last..
  5. Apr 27, 2004 #4
    Just open google. You guys are going through what we many areas of our country are going through as well. In the south, the racial divide is wider, and yes many seem to believe a prosperous black man is oftern only that way because he 'sold out to the white man'. Colin Powell, a very impressive man in my opinion, is labeled an "uncle tom" - He's a Republican Black man who speaks quite properly. Somehow that is a bad thing.

    If I knew a solution to all of this, I wouldn't be able to tell you that we have the same problems in some of our areas- granted, S Africa is known for the violence that comes from such racism more than we are (didn't say it doesn't exist). Hopefully the younger generations will soften this racial divide.
  6. Apr 27, 2004 #5


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    Aside from thinking it an attributte of a truly progressive and advanced civilization, I believe university level education should be free, although an densely educated populace is less likely to be swayed by propagadized superficialities camouflaged as issues or empty rhetoric and therefore better able to elect its governing officials. Ones who would truly represent and act upon the concerns of the people not just a select few.
  7. Apr 27, 2004 #6
    University is free in many European Countries - do you believe that is the case there? :wink:
  8. Apr 27, 2004 #7
    hmm.. u were asking wot mandela would say.?? Would u believe that it is his politcal party.. The African national congress youth league (ANCYL) and SASCO (student communist org) that are behind the mass action? Its crazy, mandela who stood for unity had been forgotten and so have the leaders of the past. jo slovo, , ebrahim asvat,walter sisulu.. just a distant memory. Some people say that this is just the start, and a whole new Zimbabwe thing will be happening soon. Are u familiar with wots happening in Zim? can u believe that Mugabe is actually one of the dignities at the presidential inauguration?
  9. Apr 27, 2004 #8
    mr Amp. the thing is that we cannot afford free university education. Wits is a private institue, and it shall remain that way. however i have heard that the govement does subsidise every black student in wits. I dont know if that is true or not... but i can tell u that South Africa is a new democratic nation, we cannot affor luxuries such as free health care, education.. so for now people will have to just accept that some people have and others do not.
  10. Apr 27, 2004 #9
    I only know the result of what is happening in Zimbabwe - I do not what exactly got started. enlighten me?
    Wow! I didn't know that!

    Africa, as a whole, has many problems that will only be fixed when the infighting stops. A while back I was incredibly astonished by African responses on the BBC. The question of "What do you think will solve Africa's Brain Drain" was responded to with nothing but full personal accountability by all of the African posters. However, all of the European and American posters responded with something along the lines of "It is our fault that Africa is the way it is." From this reading I gained the idea that many Africans feel the problem lies within, and they know the solution can lie there as well. If that idea is kept as a predominant one, then Africa will one day return to a great continent! I only wish people in my own realized on a general scale that it is our own problems that we must solve, instead of blaming other countries.
    It is quite sad to see how the leaders of the past (a whopping 10-20 years ago in most cases!) are being forgotten.
  11. Apr 27, 2004 #10


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    Its a start. Yes, and I do think those countries the people likely are better represented in their governments which are probably more responsive to their needs.
  12. Apr 27, 2004 #11
    Cest La Vie - I guess the grass is always greener. I would love for some Europeans to weigh in on this.
  13. Apr 27, 2004 #12
    Ok Pmonkey. 1979, independence. to Make things very short.. land repossessions is where it all started. War veterans during the guerilla war felt that they had the right to be rewarded with land after helping the country to gain independence.thats fine, but as a result many of the white owned farms were reposessed. There was a huge food crisis.The government's land reform program, characterized by chaos and violence, nearly destroys the commercial farming sector, the traditional source of exports and foreign exchange and the provider of 400,000 jobs. Zimbabweans start fleeing the country, Mugabe starts acting like a dictator. Morgan tsvangarai (i think thats how u spell it) emerges as an oppositions leader, he gets thrown in jail several times. In the end the country suffers from sky high inflation, its so bad that people actually have to "buy" money. There arnt enough notes to keep up with high prices that some poeple are selling bank notes on the black market. My friend has lost 2 members of his family because they couldnt afford simple cough medicine. chaos. people want thabo mbeki to put pressure on Mugabe to stop his crap, but our president has remained neutral. tony blair tried but Mugabe called him and the british parliment " A gang of gay bandits".
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2004
  14. Apr 27, 2004 #13
    And why I mention Zim. Many people believe that the dissatisfaction with those who have not with those who have, will eventually lead to people taking thing into their own hands. Claiming that things are theirs by"right" even if it may not be the case. I dunno.. will have to wait and see.
  15. Apr 27, 2004 #14

    jimmy p

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    hmmmmmm I suppose i should be the first European to join in. Uh... I dont know about other countries but Uni isnt free here in England. In fact the tuition fees are supposed to be going up by about £3000 a year starting in 2005.
  16. Apr 27, 2004 #15
    There is more involved here than the issue of "is education a privelege or a right?" There is the issue of a country with what I would assume to be a substantial poverty rate that is in transition that has a very recent history of virulent racism and the emotions that this brings up in a current context involving education.
  17. Apr 27, 2004 #16
    Personally, I think education is a privilege after a certain level, but that right should not depend on how much money you have, rather how intelligent you are.

    If you hype up each and every level of education, then surely as more and more people do them you are just moving what is the expected qualifications. Then people just have to stay in education for longer racking up a nice little debt you will have to pay off with the money you will be getting from this marvellous job you'll have because like everyone else you will have a degree. Personally I think that after a certain time (high school/GCSE level) kids should be encouraged to be educated towards their own interests, removing any stereotypes that college people are better or whatever, because that isn't true at all. Apprenticeships are a great idea for many jobs, and we need people in those jobs.

    As for rioting like that, that's just wrong. If you want what you would call a right given to you, do peaceful actions to get it and show respect for it. Who would want to teach someone who has disrupted exams and lessons? I know I wouldn't.
  18. Apr 27, 2004 #17


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    Many people don't care to pursue education past certain points ,por exemplo, some stop at a BS/BA, more at MS/MA, few go to PH.D or beyond and not many just for the sake of learning. It shold be obvious that there are advantages to having an open and free lower and higher educational system. What are the problems? Dissent?
  19. Apr 27, 2004 #18
    What I think

    Have you ever been poor? Most of the students are acting out of anger because a right that they have been able to take advantage of, has now been denied them. Any time there is change, it will most likely not be taken well. How much more for these peers that, through no fault of their own, are unable to better themselves now because they are not rich enough to do so. While those of you still left studying are wondering how fair it is that they are disrupting your education, you would do very well to consider that your wealth may one day be taken or stolen, leaving you in a much different position. In which case you may better understand the upheaval at your university and the attitudes of those rebelling.
    I don't dare say that what they are doing is right, because that is not true, but what is being done to them is not right either. You can catch more flies with honey. The critical thing to do here (in my opinion) is to let the university handle the situation, as they are the ones who have brought about this change. In the meantime, treat those students affected that are rioting with a level of arm's length sympathy, unless you can apply empathy in any amount. The privilege of an education should be granted to anyone who is willing to do the work. Because we don't live in a perfect world, and money seems to be the reason the world actually spins, then take this opportunity to understand that you don't have to be a part of these injustices, and the more likely you are to understand the other side, the less likely you are to become a part of it, through no fault of your own...
  20. Apr 27, 2004 #19
    2>ah yes, entitlement.
    3>I don't know what this means, can you clarify?
    4>Mine was. My whole life was disrupted, and far more than monetary. I spent the next years building things back and am just now about to reenter higher learning this coming Fall. I am still disgusted by those that blame others for havings something.
    5>I don't understand it. When I was put down, my life turned upside down, I didn't go blame anyone for it, even though it was no cause of my own doing that things happened the way they did.
    6>The university IS handling it. They have no money, so they are charging for school.
  21. Apr 27, 2004 #20
    Okay, let me try a different approach. Again, I stress, that I DO NOT condone their behavior...but do you not think it is unfair what is happening to them? If the tables were turned, would you not feel any animosity? If not, then you are quite a remarkable human being. Generally speaking, one's first reaction is instincts, and these students are not happy for good reason. It is unfortunate that you are being affected, but I was just trying to help make their view a bit clearer to help you appropriately deal with the current situation until the university addresses the problem. And what I meant by having the university handle it, was not that they handle what they have ALREADY OBVIOUSLY done, but that they handle the consequences of their actions.
    However, if you have no empathy at all, then there is no sense in me stating anything else. You can not teach someone to be compassionate.
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