FEES MUST FALL! CAPITALISM MUST FALL!!
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) pledges its solidarity for the struggle of University students in South Africa against a steep rise in registration, tuition and accommodation fees ranging from 8% to 12%. We look forward to your speedy victory.
Over the past few days, news of the struggle of students in South Africa has inspired many students and youth in Nigeria. The confidence and bravery is something to be emulated by all students and workers everywhere.
The ERC is the Nigerian equivalent of the Socialist Youth Movement (SYM) in South Africa. Like the SYM is the campaign of the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP), the ERC is the students and youth campaign of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) here in Nigeria. The ERC campaigns against neo-liberal education policies which aim to corporatize universities and make education the preserve of the few rich.
The struggle in South Africa is occurring against a background of the capitalist global economic crisis and particularly the neo-liberal policies of the African National Congress (ANC) government which has ensured the intense exploitation of the working class and massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. Today, South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world with just two people having as much wealth as the bottom 50 per cent of the population. 54 percent of South Africans live in poverty.
While the government wants to increase the burden of financing public education on the working class and poor population, there is 35 trillion is sitting in corporate cash balances. This is in addition to the R80bn a year that is being lost through illegal money flows, R700bn estimated to have been lost to corruption and the 8 trillion is sitting with the Public Investment Corporation.
Here in Nigeria, public education faces essentially the same challenge as in South Africa. In a country whose national minimum wage is a paltry N18, 000 (1, 200 Rand), fees in public Universities in Nigeria can be as high as N93, 000 (6, 200 Rand) or more.
We hope that your example will help encourage students here and across Africa to struggle both against fees and for increased spending on public education at all levels. According to the World Bank, 62 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa, more than 600 million young people, is below the age of 25 and this is expected to increase by 2020. If governments across Africa continue to favour neo-liberal capitalist policies that takes public education as business, the chances are that fewer and fewer number of young people will have any opportunity at all of quality education. According to UNESCO, 22 million of the 69 million eligible adolescents in the world that did not attend secondary school in 2011 lived in sub-Saharan Africa. As we struggle, it is essential we begin to draw the relevant conclusions as to what kind of struggle is needed to permanently defeat neo-liberal education policies and build a just and democratic society that provides opportunities for the youth to flourish.
The ERC supports the rejection of the 6 per cent increase suggested by the South African government. We condemn police brutality and shall campaign for students and working people in Nigeria to embark on solidarity actions which shall include picketing of South African embassies and business interests to express our solidarity with our South African brothers and sisters.
We support the demands advanced by the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) and the Socialist Youth Movement (SYM) for:
(1) 0% increases in registration, tuition, accommodation and foreign student fees
(2) Scrap all student debt to tertiary education institutions and to NSFAS
(3) The immediate release of all results withheld for non-payment of fees
(4) End outsourcing – re-employ all workers on a minimum wage of 12 500 month
(5) An end to the corporatization of tertiary education institutions
(6) Establish committees of struggle to unite students , youth and working class communities
(7) Free education now
(8) Free all arrested protesters and drop all charges. For respect of the right to protest
Hassan Taiwo Soweto Michael OgundeleNational Coordinator (07033697259) National Secretary