The Paulo Freire project of the Centre for Adult Education in the School of Education recently hosted a seminar by a Cambridge University PhD student on #Fallism and Decolonial Agency: Thoughts on Contemporary Student-led Movements in South Africa.
This was followed by a panel discussion on the topic, offered as a class in this year’s Trade School PMB.
Speaking at the seminar, the student, Mr Josh Platzky Miller, said, ‘The #Fallist movements, most notably #FeesMustFall, are reshaping the political landscape of Higher Education in South Africa, and have influenced society more broadly. There are a number of important features within these movements which point towards reimagined systems of education, with broader political-economic resonances.
‘Perhaps most significantly, the movements can themselves be spaces of teaching and learning, and enable those that take part in them to overcome senses of alienation, marginalisation and exclusion,’ he said.
As a way to draw on Fanonian thought to understand the movements’ relationships with social and epistemic rupture, the seminar focused on international solidarity efforts, considerations about student psychological impacts and possibilities, why the perceived fragmentation of the movements might be beneficial and how movements might learn historically or comparatively to use Assemblage Theory to understand the movements themselves.
Having been involved in preliminary attempts at solidarity work with various student movements, including #FeesMustFall, and his interest in learning more about how to help those in educational struggles, Platzky Miller’s work focuses on how education is contested by counter-hegemonic political movements in times of social rupture.
Following the Platzky Miller’s seminar, a panel of three students from UKZN, the University of Cape Town and Rhodes University shared their stories and reflections on #FeesMustFall.
The panellists argued that a lot had transpired since the #FeesMustFall movement officially began in 2015. Most importantly, students were still not satisfied with the outcomes, particularly relating to access to education. At the same time, other important issues, such as institutional culture and the quality of education in South African institutions of higher learning, (re)emerged from this movement.
Attended by about 25 students and staff, the panel discussion actively allowed for an engagement with the panellists’ knowledge, stories and reflections regarding the topic, leading to an in-depth discussion on knowledge, experiences and views about the issue.