It’s that time of the year again. You know what time I’m talking about? University registration time. I suppose you’re picturing students lined up in neat rows waiting to hand in their registration forms and fetching their curriculum, time tables etc. Well you’re wrong. Registration time in South Africa is when “previously disadvantaged” students toyi toy, riot, disrupt the process and violently prevent law-abiding students from registering or attending classes.
I might just stop here to explain to my foreign readers what toyi-toying is. It is a sort of protest dance involving lot’s of high-kicking, shuffling, clapping and stamping of feet. Oh, and you absolutely have to have some idiot blowing on a whistle in time to the rhythm. It may also be opportune to explain that “previously-disadvantaged” means indigenous (whatever that means) black. I didn’t make that term up, our ANC Government did.
Before I am accused of racism yet again, let me tell you why I KNOW that these protesting students were “previously disadvantaged”. White people have no rhythm, and the few times that I have seen white folk try and toyi-toy have been laughable.
(Is it just me, or is everyone in South Africa saving their work every 30 seconds in case the electricity goes off?)
But back to the story. These riots took place over outstanding fees and/or fee increases. Read the whole sordid story here. Every end of year, students from all over the country leave university with most of their fees still outstanding. Because of their outstanding fees, they don’t get their exam results either, so by the time they arrive back at University, they are fuming. To add to their woes, they are prevented from re-registering until all outstanding fees have been paid. And the fees for the current year have been increased, and they don’t really feel like doing any work, and, and, and.
So what do they do? Dance, riot, burn, fight with students who want to study, the police and university security.
Then, the university council goes into session and backs down on trying to recover arrear fees and gives these students a fat discount (or a complete subsidy of their fees) on their current fees. The rioting stops, registration proceeds, and lectures start for everyone two or three weeks late. This happens every year at almost every university or technikon.
Here are two ideas.
Firstly, set a university entrance exam at each university or technikon. Make the standard very high. Accept only the very best academically gifted students. Weed them out annually so that at the end of the degree we end up with the very best students in each of the disciplines. Offer these students FREE tuition funded by the government (ie. us taxpayers). No more fees, no more rioting. Although I’m sure they’ll still protest against the Eurocentric concept of accepting students based purely on merit.
Secondly, offer a Second Class degree. This degree is exactly the same as the normal degree and they still cover the same curriculum. The only difference is that the Second Class degree is free, and no exams need to be written. Only attendance (say 15%) is required. A Third Class degree can be picked up for a one-off fee of say R100 from the Registrars office.
“We want it all, we want it now, and we are not prepared to pay, or work for it. Welcome to the new South Africa, greed capital of the world.”