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South Africa: Years after #FeesMustFall, students are back in the streets

By Audrey Simango
Posted on Thursday, 18 March 2021 21:21, updated on Friday, 19 March 2021 12:53

Students run as a police officer disperses protesters outside the University of Johannesburg during a nationwide shutdown of public universities 15 March 2021. REUTERS/ Sumaya Hisham

Higher education in South Africa risks becoming elitist, hurting meritocracy and locking out learners from poor and working-class families, argue students at Wits University in Johannesburg. Since February, they have been blockading roads, uprooting sidewalk bricks, lighting up tires, besieging university officials and issuing ultimatums to the country's universities minister.

Accelerating their activities from 4 March, a group of Wits University students forcefully halted the registration of students for the 2021 academic year. The issue they are raising is that students with large debts are unable to register. They are demanding that students with college debts of R150,000 ($10,100) or more be allowed to sign up for classes. The management at Wits University rejected the call.