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Friday, October 21, 2016

SA University’s drop in international rankings, may be forced to adopt e-learning as #feesmustfall protests rage on | Technology Zimbabwe

"In recent weeks the highly publicized and controversial South African “#feesmustfall” protest reached a peak with widely reported incidents of students facing off with police and school leaders at multiple campuses across South Africa. There have been reports of students being arrested, shot by rubber bullets, teargassed and beaten." continues Technology Zimbabwe.

Students forced their way into the parliamentary complex.
Photo: BBC

Many of the prestigious African academic institutions have failed to contain the unrest caused by the protests leading to lectures being called off as campuses have been deemed unsafe for both academic staff and students, these include UCT, WITS, UKZN, NMMU, UP to name but a few.

So what has caused the protests? 
This is the second year running of the #feesmustfall movement. Sometime late last year the South African Government greenlighted an increase in tuition of 10.5% for the 2016 academic year which sparked outrage from student bodies across SA leading to widespread protests forcing their government to freeze any tuition increase for 2016. But in a surprising turn of events, the SA government recently greenlighted a fee increase of 8% for the 2017 academic year, hence the new wave of protests that have.

What do the students want? 
#feesmustfall movement is advocating for “free, quality and decolonised education”. According to a report by BBC, students are fighting against a system that discriminates black students who come from poor families robbing them of opportunities to study and pursue formal careers. The movement wants free education for all starting with the poor and “missing middle class” a section of a growing population in African where parents have jobs but cannot afford tertiary education.

What the Universities have been forced to consider 
With the calendar academic year in SA closely coming to an end the protests have caused up to a month of disruptions of lectures and learning. The Universities have continuously reiterated their stance on lectures having to commence with students asked to attend lectures this past Monday but that only escalated the protests with the VC of UCT on the receiving end of a few punches whilst attempting to address a group of students on the need to resume lectures.

The Universities have been caught between a rock and a hard place. There is a need for the academic year to be concluded but then there is the element of unsafe campuses for both students and lecturers. 
The only option the “brick and mortar” Universities have left is to adopt e-learning solutions effectively making students distance learners.

Source: Technology Zimbabwe

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