Analyzing the Media Narratives in South Africa’s #FeesMustFall Movement
Protests stemming from social media activism are becoming increasingly commonplace around the world, and each narrative has similar attributes, namely, (1) young adults, (2) the use of social media to organize protests, and (3) a desire to influence politics. Often, the dissatisfaction with the political leaders stems from economic disparities in income and opportunity, political corruption, authoritarian government rule, and a lack of educational opportunity. Notable examples include the Arab Spring that began in 2010 in Tunisia and spread throughout Arab countries and the Occupy Wall Street protest in 2011 in the United States that highlighted economic inequalities around the world. Can protests promulgated by social media and enacted by the young lead to democratic dialogue between political leaders and a country’s youth? The chapter considers this question in the context of the #FeesMustFall protest movement in South Africa. Specifically, the chapter describes the competing narratives offered in the news reporting about the social media-facilitated protests beginning in mid-October 2015 culminating at the end of October when President Jacob Zuma agreed not to raise college fees and including the subsequent protests in reaction to President Zuma’s announcement.
Keywords#FeesMustFall protest movement #OpenStellenbosch campaign #RhodesMustFall movement Arab Spring Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Comprehensive universities Daily Higher Education News (DHEN) Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Higher education, South Africa National Development Plan National Qualifications Framework (NQF) National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Social media South Africa Statutes of the Republic of South Africa Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges (TVEC) Universities of technology University of Port Elizabeth University of the North (UN) Zuma, J.
- Baloyi, Basani, and Gilad Isaacs. 2015. South Africa’s ‘fees must fall’ protests are about more than tuition costs. CNN.com. http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/27/africa/fees-must-fall-student-protest-south-africa-explainer/. Last modified 28 Oct 2015.
- Brown, Hayes. 2015. What you need to know about the #Feesmustfall protests rocking South Africa. Buzzfeed.com. http://www.buzzfeed.com/hayesbrown/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-feesmustfall-protests-rockin#.vqXnEXqbg5. Last modified 22Oct 2015.
- Capa, Siyamtanda. 2016. No exam hitches for NMMU students. Herald Live. http://www.heraldlive.co.za/news/top-news/2016/12/16/no-exam-hitches-nmmu-students/. Last modified 16 Dec 2016.
- CHET (Centre for Higher Education Trust). 2012. South African higher education open data. http://www.chet.org.za/data/sahe-open-data.
- Clandinin, D. Jean, and Michael F. Connelly. 2000. Narrative inquiry: Experience and story in qualitative research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
- Council on Higher Education. 2016. 2013 higher education data: Participation. CHE.ac.za. http://www.che.ac.za/focus_areas/higher_education_data/2013/participation#race. Last modified 22 Jan 2016.
- Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). 2015. White paper for post-school education and training: Building an expanded, effective and integrated post-school system. Pretoria: Department of Higher Education and Training.Google Scholar
- Govender, Prega. 2016. More than 1,200 academics plead with government to address funding crisis. Mail & Guardian. http://mg.co.za/article/2016-08-15-00-more-than-1-200-academics-plead-with-government-to-address-funding-crisis. Last modified 15 Aug 2016.
- Kilian, Anine. 2016. Wits property asset up for sale to fund education access. Engineering News. http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/wits-property-asset-up-for-sale-to-fund-education-access-2016-12-13/rep_id:4136. Last modified 23 Dec 2016.
- Letseka, Moeketsi, and Simeon Maile. 2008. High university drop-out rates: A threat to South Africa’s future. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council.Google Scholar
- Menon, Kirti. 2015. Supply and demand in South Africa. In Higher education in the BRICS countries: Investigating the pact between higher education and society, ed. Simon Schwartzman, Romulo Pinheiro, and Pundy Pillay, 171–190. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
- National Planning Commission. 2016. National development plan. Chapter 9: Improving education, training and innovation. GOV.za. http://www.gov.za/sites/www.gov.za/files/devplan_ch9_0.pdf. Accessed 22 Aug 2016.
- Patton, Michael. 2015. Qualitative research & evaluation methods: Integrating theory and practice. 4th ed. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.Google Scholar
- Presence, Chantall. 2015. NSFAS shortfall quantified at R4.5bn. IOL.co.za. http://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/nsfas-shortfall-quantified-at-r45bn-1960867. Last modified 15 Dec 2015.
- SA News.gov.za. 2016. Systems in place to ensure smooth 2017 varsity registration. http://www.sanews.gov.za/south-africa/systems-place-ensure-smooth-2017-varsity-registration. Last modified 1 Dec 2016.
- Schwartzman, Simon. 2015. Demands and policies for higher education. In Higher education in the BRICS countries: Investigating the pact between higher education and society, ed. Simon Schwartzman, Romulo Pinheiro, and Pundy Pillay, 13–31. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
- Simkins, Charles. 2016. Funding. In South African higher education reviewed: Two decades of democracy, ed. Ian Scott, Ralf Strumpf, and Denyse Webbstock, 321–382. Pretoria: Council of Higher Education (CHE).Google Scholar
- Statutes of the Republic of South Africa. 2016. Constitution of the Republic of South Africa: No. 108 of 1996. GOV.za. http://www.gov.za/sites/www.gov.za/files/images/a108-96.pdf. Accessed 22 Aug 2016.
- The World Bank. 2016. South Africa. Worldbank.org. http://data.worldbank.org/country/south-africa. Accessed 22 Aug 2016.
- Tswanya, Yolisa. 2016. CPUT graduates get certificates, despite debt. IOL News. http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/western-cape/cput-graduates-get-certificates-despite-debt-7177752. Last modified 14 Dec 2016.
- Venter, Renato. 2016. #FeesMustFall and the SA economy. Newsclip.com. https://www.newsclip.co.za/Uploads/Files/feesmustfall.pdf. Accessed 22 Aug 2016.