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Everything Must Fall

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Documentary Cinema at its best.

Everything Must Fall, the hard-hitting, thought provoking documentary film that provides perhaps the best insight possible into the tumultuous events that disrupted university campuses around the country in 2016 will feature at the world’s largest documentary film festival in Amsterdam from November 15 to 25.  It will be part of a programme section entitled Frontline at the 30th annual International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).

The film is also a feature at the current Johannesburg Film Festival that ends on November 17.  Everything Must Fall was directed by Rehad Desai, the guiding hand behind the multi award winning documentary about the Marikana massacre, Miners Shot Down.

This latest offering from Uhuru Productions traces how the opposition to a proposed increase in university tuition fees morphed into a host of democratic and egalitarian demands.  These spread rapidly to encompass the plight of the lowly paid and outsourced cleaning staff and the protest was joined by university bus drivers, campus security and several prominent academics. 

As the protests spread around the country, the initial demand about fees became “Fallism” with calls to scrap patriarchy, homophobia and capitalism.

Although the film focusses primarily on the Witwatersrand University campus it provides a more than adequate insight to the virtually revolutionary situation that erupted on campuses around the country.  It also raises the vexed issues of class and colour;  of non partisans politics, the role of bureaucracies, government and political parties; of the often neglected differences in attitude between students at the historically “white” and “black” universities.

Once again, the gross over-reaction of what remains an effectively paramilitary police force comes through strongly, although, unlike Marikana, it was rubber and not live rounds that were used.   In many ways reminiscent of the Arab Spring movement in Egypt, this latest record of an important aspect of our recent history opens up many crucial debates about the future, and not only at universities. 

Terry Bell
Inside labour
Fin24/City Press

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Six South African TV Productions submitted to the International Public Television Screening Conference – INPUT

Cutting edge television from South Africa contends to be screened at the annual global INPUT conference.

The International Public Television Screening Conference (INPUT) is the world’s most influential and longest running Television Conference around Storytelling in the Interest of the Audience. The conference has been held at a different broadcaster since 1976 and will return to South East Asia next year when it will be jointly hosted by Goethe Institut and Thai PBS in Bangkok from 6 May – 10 May 2019.

At INPUT, TV makers from around the globe screen, debate and evaluate productions that are raising the bar in television making. The South African National Coordinators for INPUT, Henriette De Villiers and François Smit, both from AFDA, believe the selection from South Africa stands a good chance to be screened at the conference. An impressive selection of independent production companies showcasing the most innovative TV from South Africa will be represented. Productions that screen at the international conference generally tackle international topics on a local level, and provide insight into solutions to challenges that face all TV makers globally. INPUT 2019 is particularly interested in seeing such solutions for Fiction (series and longform): Broadcasters are faced with great challenges with the development of new distribution models and are eagerly looking for content and stories that could help them steer through the challenges these new platforms bring. One thing that broadcasters do however still do better than most other media (simply due to its reach), is the growth, stabilization and development of Civil Society. At INPUT 2019, the call to the global television community was to challenges notions of investigative journalism and Factual and how it can be shown (and made appealing) to a diversified and pluralistic audience. The South African selection give great examples of world class programming both in Fiction and Factual.

The six South African productions traveling to the international selection are:

Fiction:
Lockdown – Blackbrain Pictures – Mzansi Magic
Kanarie – Marche Media – KykNet
Swartwater – Quizzical Pictures – SABC
Tjovitjo – Puo Pha Productions – SABC

Factual:
Everything Must Fall – Uhuru Productions
Someone to Blame – EMS Productions – SABC

At the German National Broadcaster – ARD, in February, after sifting through approximately 600 Productions, the Conference moderators will curate a conference programme consisting of around 80 TV Productions from around the world. The six productions from South Africa are all of remarkably high standard, challenging the audience not only with their content, but also by the craft evident in these remarkable productions.  
INPUT is an organization run by volunteers – all TV professionals who are dedicated to the medium of television and the responsibility it has as integral part of the fourth pillar of society – responsible media. The international conference has been hosted twice in South Africa. The organizational hub for INPUT in South Africa is hosted by AFDA, the School of the Creative Economy.

For further information:
www.input-tv.org
www.afda.co.za

South African National Coordinators for INPUT:

Henriette de Villiers – Dean, AFDA Johannesburg – HenrietteD@afda.co.za
François Smit – Head of Postgraduate Studies, AFDA Johannesburg – FrancoisS@afda.co.za

MEDIA STATEMENT

NSFAS’S QUALIFIED AUDIT OPINION OF GREAT CONCERN – COMMITTEE CHAIR

Parliament, Monday, 8 October 2018 – The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training said it is greatly concerning that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has regressed and received a qualified audit.

Committee Chairperson Ms Connie September said the committee will have to be convinced why the executive management and the audit committee should be retained at the entity – and why the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) officials, tasked with overseeing NSFAS, must still oversee the entity.

“The committee feels vindicated on its stance when it pointed out that disbursements were in excess of loan and bursary agreements. It is further alleged that unused funds were invested without approval from the National Treasury.”

The committee supports the appointment of the Administrator, but cannot accept that the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) should violated any further. The PFMA is very clear on what remedies and consequence management ought to be applied in the instance of irregular expenditure that was first assessed to be R1.3 billion, then later R284 million.

The committee will tomorrow receive briefings on Annual Reports from both the department and its entities. Parliament will be occupied with budget review for all departments in the last term of the year.

Ms September said the committee must still look at what steps can be taken at the previous board. “The committee will be urged after engagement to support the call by the Auditor-General that the administrative leadership must be held accountable, investigate non-compliance with the PFMA to the extent of recovering any money.

“Of note, are also irregular expenditures, deviations from both the department and other entities. Much-needed funds are required to be given to poor and disabled students, as well as to the various institutions to improve higher education and training.”

She said no effort should be spared in improving the skills base the country requires in order to eradicate unemployment. Any regression in accounting on expenditure negates these objectives.

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING, MS CONNIE SEPTEMBER.

For media enquiries or interviews with the Chairperson, please contact the Committee’s Media Officer:
Name: Sibongile Maputi (Mr)
Parliamentary Communication Services
Tel: 021 403 8041
Cell: 081 052 6060
Email: smaputi@parliament.gov.za

University of Witwatersrand Student Protests 2015 Timeline

The student movement Rhodes Must Fall (#RhodesMustFall, #RMF) garnered much media attention in March of 2015, after Chumani Maxwele of the movement defiled a Rhodes statue on the Upper Campus of the University of Cape Town (UCT) with faeces.

Instead of succumbing to public pressure and media scrutiny, the movement became further radicalised and escalated their calls for decolonisation of the institution, starting with removal of the Rhodes statue. The ideological struggle of removing the statue became explosive and triggered national debate on social media under the banner #RhodesMustFall.

Exactly one month after the cataclysmic event, on 9 April 2015, the Rhodes statue was taken down by the University. This event marked a symbolic shift in the discourse of South Africa, to one more decolonial in character. RMF, other student bodies, and workers continued to protest against outsourcing and other oppressive structures throughout the year. Social media was used to coordinate events and convey important messages internally and to the general public. RMF also made a documentary on the exploitative nature of outsourcing at UCT. These protest mediums were used in conjunction with occupation and disruption methods on campus.

In February 2015 at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits), the SRC and other students launched the 1Million 1Month campaign to raise funds for students on NSFAS who are still unable to afford registration fees. This brought to the fore the dire financial circumstance of the majority of students at the University. Shaeera Kalla, then standing SRC president and key leader in the WitsFeesMustFall movement, describes in an interview with SAHO that this experience helped prime her for later events, as the issues called for immediate structural change.

Read More: http://www.sahistory.org.za/article/university-witwatersrand-student-protests-2015-timeline

The Case for Free Quality Education for All, Now!

 It is no accident that the issue of the funding of higher education dominates the national discourse.  Since the student uprising in 2015 this question has been at the centre of debate and discussion, part of a wider crisis in society.  Our University with its specific features (distance learning, non-residential students and lower sections of the student population etc.) finds itself right in the middle of the crisis. South Africa is in a deep economic crisis with the economy characterised by high prices and zero to one percent growth projected for the next three years, a social crisis of high levels of unemployment (roughly 50% for the youth) and deep social inequality (the most unequal society in the world) and a political crisis of the ruling party that is eating itself apart from the inside.   The student struggle is unfolding in a society “at war with itself”; the Nene and Gordhan debacle has lost billions in revenue for the country, the interdicted Madonsela report causes one section of the ANC to support her and another egging her on to leave sooner, the fraud charges hanging over the President’s head goes from one legal appeal to the next, the drop in electoral support for the ANC deepens factional divisions and lays the basis for a third big split in the party.   

It is widely acknowledged that higher education in South Africa is chronically underfunded. The Minister of Higher Education is desperately trying to access additional resources for higher education. The problem is not merely underfunded higher education but also the role of higher education in society and its relationship to the social system. Questions of ‘decolonisation’ and ‘transformation’ of post-apartheid society and how ‘national development’ and its political, socio-economic, and cultural goals are to be realised are as important as funds. A new consciousness of solidarity amongst significant numbers of youth speaks to the intersectionality of class exploitation, racism, different forms of oppression and patriarchy in concrete ways. This has over time expanded to include issues about privatisation and the outsourcing of work, the perverse pursuit of rankings and competitiveness, inequalities between universities and the ‘decolonising’ of the curriculum. In this paper I will confine myself to the question of funding; whether free higher education should be provided for the ‘poor’ or more universally ‘for all’.

Why No Free Education for All, Now

The most popular argument against ‘free higher education for all” is to be found in the writings, comments of various academics and government analysts.  They argue that there is simply not enough money to do anything other than what is envisaged by NSFAS, expanded to cover the missing middle and other contingency expenses “there is not enough money in any developing country for free higher education” (Cloete 2015). The irony is that these ‘experts’ do not provide empirical proof for their assertion and expect us to just accept that our demands for free education is reckless.  The prevailing tax base, poor economic growth and the competing demands on the state’s resources make it impossible.  These analysts fail to seriously scrutinize the state’s fiscal strategy and do not provide access to information which would give one a proper analysis of its fiscal capacity and which dominant interests it currently serves. They accept the state narrative and end up defending it without subjecting it to serious scrutiny.

 What gives the lie to the state’s case is that there always seems to be resources for other choices made by government. The two that stand out is the World Cup which was supposedly going to reap billions for the taxpayer but ended up costing billions.  Of course there was attached to this the corruption of the big construction companies who make a killing for themselves.  Today most of the stadiums built for the World Cup are white elephants.  Already there is talk of hosting the Commonwealth Games in Durban in 2022.  One wonders where the money for this will be found.  The budget allocation for the military is 3% of GDP.  Who may we ask are we at war with? Clearly the very idea of “limited resources” is based on a particular line of reasoning derived from conservative economic thinking which does not address the country’s structural inequalities. Instead they increase social divisions and continue the exploitative practices of apartheid capitalism.

The Second argument of the analysts is that free higher education for all disadvantages the ‘poor’ and privileges the ‘rich’.  This argument is premised on the supposed role of the state to engendering support for those ‘historically disadvantaged’.  This is no more than an attempt to augment the middle class by supporting those who in the past have been excluded. This approach does not address how unequal social relations are reproduced and does not question whether social class differentiation is itself desirable.  Those lucky enough to be politically connected benefit the most while the vast majority of people wait in anticipation for their turn which never comes.

The alternatives

What are we proposing as alternatives to the status quo?

Firstly, a conceptual framework must be established around which practical possibilities can be built. Public will and democratic accountability needs to be mobilised. All people must be given the space to think more deeply about universal, free and quality public education as a constitutive condition for democracy and necessary for the public good. It is possible to begin this process at universities and elsewhere through events devoted to robust and critical dialogue.

Universities and similar public institutions have a responsibility and a significant role to play in guiding discussion about the criteria for framing public choice. They can help people to understand how public funds are spent. Importantly, they can provide spaces where the views of those marginalised and excluded can be recognised and heard. Institutional decision making must be democratised beyond its limited managerial forms. The fiscal debate must also be opened up so that everyone can see what sources of funding can be immediately made available. We will need discussion about what sort of detailed research is necessary and how this will inform alternative social, political, economic and cultural choices. 

We suggest as a starting point:

  • No student who meets the requirements for admission to a University should be excluded for financial reasons. Students should be funded for free cost of study; this should included registration and fees, cost of meals and accommodation, travel and books. Universities should receive sufficient funds per student to discharge its obligation to provide free quality education.
  • A progressive education levy should be implemented starting from those earning six hundred thousand a year (R600 000) and increasing progressively as the income increases.
  • A special education levy on Companies increasing their tax level from the paltry 28% it currently is to at least 31%. Under Apartheid it fluctuated in the 40% range.
  • The re-allocation of the budget from less socially necessary functions to education. From 2012 data, the proportion of GDP for Brazil is 0.95%, Senegal and Ghana 1.4%, Norway and Finland over 2% and Cuba 4.5%. In South Africa, the 2015-16 budget for higher education is R30 billion. This is only 0, 75% of GDP.  Academics at Wits have argued that this allocation be immediately lifted to at least 1, 5% of GDP to begin to address the question raising education levels.  They argue this could be the beginning of a serious process of implementing free education for all. We currently spend 3% of our budget on the military.  Why is this necessary when we have such important social issues that need attention?
  • The immediate closing of all avenues for private and public CORRUPTION. Transfer pricing and the corrupt bureaucratic state structure must be addressed seriously so that billions can be saved and used for better purposes. The Zuma cabal must be removed from office if corruption is to be dealt with.

State and University authorities’ responses

Interdicts, securitization, militarisation, arrests, suspensions and expulsions do not in any way solve the question of how to prepare for a higher education system that serves the country and humanity as a whole.  #Habibism (forced militarised education) and #HabibApartheid (curfew on student movement) is not a long term solution to the crisis. 

While Vice-Chancellors and Universities cannot themselves decide on ‘Free Quality Education for All’, they can play a fundamental role in pressurizing government to implement such policy.  In order to do so they must JOIN THE STUDENTS IN PROTEST and PUT DOWN THEIR TOOLS until we achieve Free Quality Education for All.

Education as a public good

Education as a public good should be regarded as essential to the development of citizens in a democratic society. Public resources must be used in ways that can support and engender ideas and practices which enhance cooperation, collegiality, social sharing, social responsibility, caring and social equalisation.  This sort of education can help us to reconceptualise the goals of a socially just society. It can reorganise social relations more fundamentally than the current system does.

The goal of public quality education is to bring all of society, not just the “historically disadvantaged”, into the process of social transformation. It involves both those who are wealthy and those in poverty. This allows a process of genuine social reorganisation to start, and enables South Africa to address the structural characteristics of social inequality.

(This document is based on a brilliant article by Enver Motala, Salim Vally and Rasigan Maharajh “Education, the State, and Class Inequality:  the case for Free Higher Education in South Africa”.)

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