Last week it actually hit me, under all the liberation and freedom I am experiencing now, the only reason I am working as a dancer, working as a stripper is
because of school fees.
Had I not experienced the disappointment and temporary devastation that came with realising I may need to fund the last year of my studies myself after being on a bursary that paid for almost everything during my first two years, I really would not have had any reason to go and dance.
I was watching the protests right below me as I stood on our balcony at the top of the club. Those were my classmates and friends. Suddenly whatever veil there may have been between the protestors, and the soon-to-graduate-stripper, who until that point had only read about the protests, disappeared. At this moment I realised that this was a bigger part of my story. A lot of my colleagues are students themselves and dance to pay their fees.
Despite how I feel about it now I can’t say I would have started stripping just for fun if the need to pay my fees myself hadn’t risen. My own siblings have had issues not being able to go back to school because my mother too struggles to keep up with the cost of a decent education sometimes. Even now, we’re banking on scholarships and bursaries to fund the university fees when they get there. Although I love what I do I don’t want my little sister to be a stripper to pay her school fees. She could do it for other reasons if she really wants to, but she shouldn’t have to do it to get an education.
Witnessing these protests I realised all over again the extent to which parents, families, relatives and even students themselves, would go to be able to afford school. A hike that is a tenth of what students are already paying now only makes it harder for the average person to afford the opportunity to be better marketable and advance oneself within the work place, which is already wildly competitive. Furthermore, increasing fees also could motivate institutions that are sponsoring students to downscale on the social responsibility programs because of higher costs.
When my Belgian colleague came running into the lounge to ask me what the shouting and chanting outside is about, she said that in Europe, if fees were to go up, the people just shrug and choose not to go to school. And that’s the thing, I said to her. South Africans want to go to school. In our country, unfortunately, not having a type of formal qualification can dictate how well you can look to your basic needs like shelter, health care social and security services and further education for others down the line. Within the country the support provided by the state at a basic level does not afford the average person to not go to school because then you In our country, you must go to school if you want a chance to live a humane life, because our public services are not on par. If we ‘just shrugged and chose not to go to school’, we would pull ourselves even further from liberating ourselves and taking ownership of our country again.
In the economics courses I did, we spent quite some time studying education and the fact that the most of our budget is allocated to developing and sustaining it. Yet there are no results. Tax payers give a lot of money to the running of this country… the money is there… Our resources are either being abused or not used efficiently. I think it’s a combination of both, a lot of it coming from the former. We, as a country, do not in many instances have the skills and the human capital to handle all that is in our great land.
The fact of the matter is the country itself cannot afford for South Africans to not go to school. #FreeEducationForAll
I do not think it is unreasonable to refuse a fees increase… and yes, I want to raise my kids in a South Africa that takes them to good, free schools so that they won’t have to strip to get a decent education like their mama did.