This is a submission to the 2016 Tsogo Alumni Society Essay Competition. The essay is the learners work and has gone through some minimal editing for presentation. 

Author: Boitshoko Mboweni

Grade: 10B, Tsogo Secondary School

Title: Is there such a thing as “free education”? Could this “free education” be achieved by non-fee paying schools (like Tsogo Secondary) and “free” higher education as espoused by the #FeesMustFall movement?

There is no such thing as free education and non–fee schools like Tsogo secondary school cannot achieve it, and there is no free higher education as espoused by the # fees must fall movement.

Non – fee schools are in a state of emergency as the buildings are no longer conducive for teaching and learning as they are old and date back to the twentieth century. These schools also lack facilities such as fully functioning school libraries; spacious staff rooms; enough classes, medical rooms and a science lab among other things. This causes hardships when it comes to meeting the curriculum requirements and producing good grades at the end of each academic year.

Fees Mus Fall Protests

Fees Must Fall Protests

These schools also have a vast shortage of chairs, tables and textbooks. The students go to an extent of using lab chairs in class. The tables that students use are uncomfortable and are often in good conditions, using them is a lot more harder as they are mostly broken or damaged. The shortage of textbooks causes a major halt in class as learners are unable to study at home as they have to share textbooks and even cannot do homework’s. These schools also lack school halls causing another struggle when it comes to fundraising events.

In comparison to schools that pay fees local non-fee schools have proven to be out-dated and lack more facilities than one could imagine. The comparison also proves that the lack of facilities forces the school management to offer students limited subjects and in the process shutting other learners dreams and the chance to pursue their favourite careers. The comparison then moves to the teacher learner ratio in classes. In local schools the ratio ranges from 1:50 – 1:60 pupils in a class that was constructed to suit 35 learners. In fee paying schools the ratios range from 1:15 – 1:16 pupils per class, this ratio also impacts the performance of the class.

The comparison then moves to medical rooms and first aid kits. The closest things that we students of Tsogo know to a medical room is a small ragged couch in the administration block, our first aid kit lacks many things such as aspirins, paracetamol among other things. We also lack a qualified health practitioner who would assist with the first aid treatment, where in fee paying schools each class if fitted with a fully equipped first aid kit and it has a medical room where serious medical attention is offered and they also have a qualified medical practitioner who assists with treating injuries that can occur at school. Still under the comparison of health and sanitation, some non-fee schools wish to have healthy modernized toilets because they are still using pit toilets and some students have suffered the consequences of these pit toilets such as death and infections such as bladder infections but for students in fee paying schools, pit toilets are legends in a story book.

The comparison then moves to activities that learners can choose to take part in. In non fee – schools there are three sports to choose from whereas in fee paying schools the students have unlimited options. These sports in non-fee schools are only given a spotlight during the department’s sporting season whereas for fee paying schools one can take part in a chosen activity everyday.

These schools (non-fee schools), also lack and have a vast shortage of resources such as teachers; textbooks and other materials among others this makes learning and teaching hard for both students and teachers.

If there institutions of higher education were to be declared no-fee institutions of learning the outcome grade/results would be poor because these institutions need a lot of money to provide with good education without hesitation.

If the memorandum presented was to be adopted the institutions would have shut down, and this would have meant that all the state of the art gadgets in the institutions would not have been repaired if they were to be broken or damaged; they would not have been serviced or even replaced if they were out-dated. This would have meant that the residential areas for students would have not been constructed to house students due to a lack of money to do so. This would also stand in the way of the modification of these institutions of higher education. In short the # fees must fall was a disastrous movement that would have brought many institutions to a halt and would have came with more issues of unemployment. The # fees must fall movement was a disaster as it was forcing a revolution in higher education.

These things that local no-fee schools lack form part of the negative attitude towards education. I mean who would enjoy school if you still have to share textbooks like they did in 1976? Who would enjoy school if you still lack facilities like they did in 1976? Who would enjoy school where one’s talents are not recognised? Who would enjoy school where you are offered limited subjects? I would certainly not enjoy school.

These things that non-fees schools lack such as libraries; medical rooms; science labs; biology labs; safe and sanitary toilets; enough resources (text books, teachers, first aid kits and other things) and other things are a basic need for schools around the country but for other schools those things have been a wish since the schools started operating.

The comparisons, ideas, facts and opinions listed above serve as proof that non-fee schools cannot offer the best education as they lack many modern facilities and that the is no such thing as free higher education as the facilities and the gadgets in the facilities have to be modified annually.

In conclusion I would like to say that I am in opposition of the #FeesMustFall movement and I am in opposition of the above topic