Red Alert on Education Direct contradictions of any genuine struggle for accelerated rollout of free higher education for the poor Umsebenzi Online, Johannesburg, 13 October 2016 Destruction of the very infrastructure needed to deliver education and human rights violations affecting other students are a direct contradiction of any genuine struggle for accelerated rollout of free higher education for the poor. South Africa is no longer a country under apartheid regime. It is a developing democracy. It is important for progressive and revolutionary forces, inclusive of students, to advance their demands and win the majority to their side by democratic means. Democratic students must therefore distance themselves from the tiny minority of fringe elements who exploit genuine students' struggles and destroy infrastructure in universities, commit other acts of crime and violate the rights of other students in the name of free education. Equally, or perhaps more important, the democratic developmental state that we seek to build, as a national democratic transformation imperative, must fulfil its responsibility to protect the rights of all the people who live in South Africa - not excluding students. Any persisting signs of failure, in this regard, can only bring discredit upon the very nascent state and widen space giving play to a counter-revolution. The state must democratically protect the constitutional rights, to peacefully and unarmed, assemble, demonstrate, picket and present petitions, to the freedom of association and the freedom to make political choices. Let us now look at the programme of the strategic goal of free education from its theoretical foundation and development in the world revolutionary movement as well as in South Africa. Firstly, the basic theory of the programme, most notably, emerged in the Manifesto Communist Party, authored by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels and first published in 1848. It thus became an integral part of the Party's programme in South Africa from its founding in 1921. Secondly, the programme emerged as a shared perspective in the Freedom Charter, first adopted in 1955 constituting the shared (basic or minimum) programme of the whole ANC-led national liberation movement and alliance. However, in both cases there are details that have been ignored by many, or even distorted, for different reasons. The second section of the Communist Manifesto, titled the "Proletarians and Communists", contains a ten point programme. The programme lists measures or principles that the working class must pursue both during the struggle for liberation and social emancipation and through the state after winning the battle of democracy. The programme and its principles cannot be treated like a one size fits all neoliberal globalisation that has been, and continues to be, undemocratically imposed universally by imperialist forces without regard to a country's particularities. In the words of the Communist Manifesto itself, those "measures will, of course, be different in different countries". This is an important point of departure on understanding the Manifesto and waging the struggle to achieve its objectives, because it is a product of a concrete analysis of concrete conditions. In his preface to the 1872 edition of the Manifesto, Engels explained the point. He clearly said: "The practical application of the principles will depend, as the Manifesto itself states, everywhere and at all times, on the historical conditions for the time being existing, and, for that reason, no special stress is laid on the revolutionary measures proposed at the end of Section II." We need not go back to the very induction level lesson that, economic organisation, strength, capacity and the overall economy as the base structure upon which political institutions and economic policy rests, play a determining role not only on education development but other social redistributive or transformative programmes. This includes fiscal policy, which basically deals with raising taxes from economic activity and managing the expenditure of public funds, including striking a balance, time and space between different priorities. Political economies North of South Africa, in Latin America, and in other formerly colonised countries of the global South, found themselves under the dictatorship of Western imperialist financiers, the so-called International Bank of Reconstruction and Development, also known as the World Bank (Group) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). One of the main reasons was to try to deliver on social transformation through credit (loans, bonds, etc.). But social transformation programmes such as education, as we all know, do not require a one-off but sustainable expenditure. In particular, there was a lacking, or insufficient, radical economic transformation to support those social redistributive and transformative programmes on a constant basis. At the end of the day, the economy could not generate more resources to repay both the primary loans and interest rates. What then happened? Political suicide, abortion of the revolution or its postponement for a very long time to come The United States (U.S.) controlled World Bank and the IMF, backed by the U.S. Treasury, Western financiers and transnational corporations, demanded privatisation of state-owned assets, out-sourcing or out-contracting, curtailing the size of the public service and therefore job cuts, an end to state subsidies of social programmes and production, cutting down on social spending, liberalisation, deregulation, reduction of corporate tax, etc. There are many people who would like us to believe that these and other neoliberal measures, imposed through the World Bank, IMF and private financial monopoly loan conditionalities, the so-called Structural Adjustment Programmes and Poverty Reduction Programmes, etc., were just ideas only of an ideology as an article of faith. The fact is that the global imperialist regime imposed those and other neoliberal measures as part of its efforts to force different nation states, starting with those that were most affected, to make income and "savings" to pay back their loans plus ever growing interests rates. In addition, transnational corporations pushed for a global operating environment for profit maximisation. The common thrust in both instances is that (private) monopoly capital wanted, and to this day still wants, the working class to be the one to pay and, in the same vein, to labour more and more on an intensified basis to produce maximum profits for accumulation by the capitalists (ruling class) through private enterprise. This is not the road for South Africa to take. Towards the success of the national democratic revolution This is why we must be rooted in revolutionary theory and realistic about the immediate objectives of social transformation. The impression that the goals of democratic social transformation can be achieved at a stroke is misleading. Let us also highlight that the Communist Manifesto was authored from a point of view of class struggle as the motor of social transformation rather than some momentary event. Having underlined the preceding points, let us now return to the substantive content of the Manifesto and the Freedom Charter on our main question, free education. The tenth programmatic principle in Section II of the Manifesto is about making education free for all children in public schools. The phrases "all children" and "in public schools" are equally important, as is the phrase "free education". This programmatic principle was worded in almost the same way in the Freedom Charter. The charter states that: "Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children". The words "compulsory", "universal", "equal", "for all children", are not just words but principles that are equally important, as is the word "free". The ANC-led government delivered massive progress in this direction since our April 1994 democratic breakthrough. Based on our country's concrete conditions, this was, and is still being, driven through school subsidies and the policies of no-fee paying schools, exemption of fees for the poor in fee-paying schools, the school feeding scheme and scholar transport subsidies. In this regard, in particular economic capacity, linked with it state revenue, and the fundamental need to reduce and ultimately eliminate social inequality, are crucial in appreciating that we are in a process, that Rome was not built in a day. We still have - and there are many - fee-paying schools. There are school fees that are more than R18 000 and more than R25 000 per annum at primary and secondary school levels respectively. Meanwhile, there are voices from within the ranks of leadership echelons in some of the structures of our ANC-led movement that ignore the ANC's approach and the realities briefly highlighted above, while seeking to penetrate the public's ears as the champions of free higher education. Such sowing of confusion impact negatively on the ANC's capacity to provide coherent leadership not only on the ongoing situation facing a number of our universities but, if we are to be more frank, on varying extents on other issues as well. The ANC needs to look at this from the point of view of political and organisational discipline. If it cannot prove to be coherent, if it cannot lead its own structures and members, it will find it more difficult to succeed in leading the whole revolutionary movement and society. It is important to appreciate that we are faced with a deeply rooted legacy of colonialism, apartheid, capitalist economic exploitation and imperialist domination to address. This legacy is supported by a deeply-rooted complex structure of structural forces (nationally and globally) that, unless we overcome, will continue to wield their power and hold back the pace of our process of democratic social transformation. Rather than allow factional behaviour to weaken the ANC-led progressive and revolutionary forces, to narrow the struggle we are facing, to turn it inward into a struggle of "comrade" against comrade, what we need is principled unity and strategic discipline based on a revolutionary clarity of thought in relation to our nation's challenges, objective realities, as well as based on the immediate objectives of our democratic transformation, its ultimate goals and vision. Let us now look at post-school education and training. Our basic theory as communists in this regard emanates from Karl Marx's "Critique of the Gotha Programme" written in 1875. As a shared perspective of the ANC-led alliance, it emerged in the Freedom Charter and the ANC 52nd National Conference resolutions adopted in 2007 in Polokwane. Must, or is it reasonable for, the rich and wealthy to privately enjoy the wealth accumulated from social production and still receive social programmes for free? In his "Critique of the Gotha Programme", Marx states that: "If in some states of the latter country", referring to the US at that time, "higher education institutions are also 'free', that only means in fact defraying the cost of education of the upper classes from the general tax receipts." What this means in simple terms is that the rich, the wealthy and the well-off who can afford to pay must pay for higher education instead of defraying the cost for them from tax payers' money. If they do not pay, especially in South Africa, a society still characterised by economic inequalities articulated in all sorts of socially constructed phenomena - wealth inequality, income inequality, racial inequality, gender inequality, and spatial inequality - all arising out of capitalist production relations, inequality will widen. It will be more difficult to roll it back. Some, if not most or all of them will simply redirect the money that they should be paying to deepen inequality in education or socially in general through more advantages or otherwise simply use it to entertain themselves in leisure and luxury without regard to societal needs. What does the Freedom Charter and the ANC's Polokwane Conference resolutions say about higher education? In contradiction to the distortions by those who are propagating narrow and factional politics, the Freedom Charter is very clear. It says: "Higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit". This does not need any interpretation. There is a categorical difference between what the Charter says about higher education and technical training and what it says about basic or compulsory education as already underlined. The challenge is that basic education is not yet equal. There are rich communities. There are poor communities. There are well-resourced schools. There are under-resourced or poorly resourced schools. Other schools have libraries, laboratories, professionally qualified teachers in mathematics, science and technology. Others do not, but have learners in those and other learning areas affected by inequality in education. While the content of teaching and learning is largely the same, the quality and environment of teaching and learning are neither equal nor the same. There are therefore learners who do their home works conduct research through the aid of computer devices and the internet. Others do not have those resources. There are migrant workers who do not live with their children and are unable to help them with their home works. Other parents do live with their children, but because of shift configurations and long hours of work they are unable to help them with their school work, effectively, if they are able to at all. Others do help their children effectively, not only because they live with them but because of their attainments in education, the time and resources they have. In addition, a proportion of them pay for extra classes for their children to improve learner performance, over and above paying school fees. Still, others take their children to ivory tower "independent" schools as opposed to public schools. It will take time to eliminate these inequalities and level the playing field on the road to the realisation of the goal of "free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children" in public schools. Learners in schools do not stand an equal chance to become top achievers. Not every learner qualifies for bursaries or, as the Freedom Charter says, "scholarships awarded on the basis of merit" that are mostly given to, if not reserved for top achievers. Related to this, we all know what the term "allowances", used in the Freedom Charter, means. Therefore, while higher education and training was indeed opened to all in 1994, access is still a challenge, even if it was to be administered through "STATE ALLOWANCES AND SCHOLARSHIPS AWARDED ON THE BASIS OF MERIT" in line with the Freedom Charter. There are many learners who achieve matriculation by meeting minimum requirements for university admission without necessarily making it in the categories of top achievers. They therefore do not attract bursaries and scholarships both from the private sector and the state awarded on the basis of that merit. This is the thrust of the context in which the ANC, supported by its alliance partners the SACP and COSATU, had to intervene in 2007 in Polokwane when it resolved that the ANC-led government must "Progressively introduce free education for the poor until undergraduate level". Still, in this regard, it is very important to underline the phrases "PROGRESSIVELY INTRODUCE..." and "...FOR THE POOR UNTIL UNDERGRADUATE LEVEL". Elements from within the leadership ranks of the ANC-led structures and movement who say the goal must have been achieved yesterday are, therefore, clearly pushing ulterior motives in isolation from the ANC's policy concerning the need to accelerate the progressive rollout of free higher education for the poor. By the way this objective received a hugely increased support since 2009 implemented by the first ANC-led administration post-Polokwane. Ignoring the massive progress achieved since then, and therefore not acknowledging it, can only serve the agendas to marginalise not an individual per se, but the ANC's achievements as a governing party. In addition, those elements ignore the fact that the ANC President Comrade Jacob Zuma in his capacity as the executive authority and head of our state established the ongoing fees commission to explore measures to accelerate the rollout of the progress, and that they in fact did congratulate him for taking the decision. They also simplistically ignore the phrase "FOR THE POOR". They instead improvise. Without a mandate, they bind the ANC: "for all". They clearly depart from ANC policy positions in order to try and isolate the Minister of Higher Education and Training (HET) Dr Blade Nzimande just because they want to marginalise communists. That is a factional agenda to liquidate the nature and character of the ANC and its leadership composition and capture it in order to change it into something else it never was destined to become. It is important that we appreciate progress, but this without being in denial that there is indeed more work that needs to be done. However, the confusion sowed by factionalists and some sections of the opposition and academia personalising the challenge of access to higher education, as if it has been created by the Minister, must be dismissed as gibberish. There problem is systemic, structural and will not be solved without radical economic transformation. It will also not be solved without radical fiscal policy reforms, including in particular a progressive tax on high incomes and wealth to support not only education but other social transformation priorities. Other than this, any further expansion - if immediately possible - of the progressive intervention recently announced by the Minister will require additional funds to be allocated to the HET department. The Minister announced that the state will pay fees and fee increases for the poor and fee increases (all capped at 8%) for students from lower sections of the middle class (the so-called missing middle) or households with an income of up to R600 000. It is reasonable to expect the academic programme in universities to proceed while the fees commission finalises its work and while simultaneously deepening the struggle to the door steps of the people who alone accumulate society's wealth on a private basis - the bourgeoisie. The extent of progress in this process - of class struggle - by the working class in alliance with students and progressive strata, must open space for the state to make headways in terms of taxing wealth and high incomes to finance accelerated rollout of free education and other social redistributive programmes for the poor, working class and lower sections of the middle class that cannot afford to pay. From: http://www.sacp.org.za/main.php?ID=5643 __________ Information from ESET NOD32 Antivirus, version of virus signature database 14273 (20161013) __________ The message was checked by ESET NOD32 Antivirus. http://www.eset.com -- -- You are subscribed. This footer can help you. Please POST your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or reply to this message. You can visit the group WEB SITE at http://groups.google.com/group/yclsa-eom-forum for different delivery options, pages, files and membership. To UNSUBSCRIBE, please email yclsa-eom-forum-unsubscr...@googlegroups.com . You don't have to put anything in the "Subject:" field. You don't have to put anything in the message part. All you have to do is to send an e-mail to this address (repeat): yclsa-eom-forum-unsubscr...@googlegroups.com . --- You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups "YCLSA Discussion Forum" group. To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to yclsa-eom-forum+unsubscr...@googlegroups.com. To post to this group, send an email to email@example.com. Visit this group at https://groups.google.com/group/yclsa-eom-forum. To view this discussion on the web, visit https://groups.google.com/d/msgid/yclsa-eom-forum/001201d2254e%24d17c5970%2474750c50%24%40com. For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.