Pathways to Free Education
Toward the end of 2015, the South African student and worker movements became both increasingly fragmented by internal political differences, and demobilised by the repressive apparatuses of the state and capital. As a result, a lot of spaces for debating and strategising around free education on campuses disappeared. Additionally, a lot of energy got diverted to responding to the tactics of repression: dealing with panic attacks, resting, bailing cadres out of jail, and getting wrapped up in seemingly endless university disciplinary procedures.
The shutting down of autonomous Black educational spaces that were started by students at universities, and the mass-popular nature of the uprisings had led to a situation where the movement wasn’t engaged in the type of critical education work that had initially been its basis. Furthermore, despite some isolated attempts by Black students to build relationships with progressive organisations beyond the academy, #feesmustfall and #outsourcingmustfall remained primarily centred on universities.
As a response to this combination of circumstances, Pathways converged as a group of people who wanted to continue the work to which we had been participating on campus; collectively discussing and planning the non-partisan movement and struggles for free education. We wanted to create a space to learn about, participate in, and contribute to the debates around free education, and through that, build relationships with people and collectives working in different sectors who were interested and committed to the project of free education. We had the position that education is something that implicates and affects everyone, and is connected to struggles around wages, disability, land, patriarchy, sexuality, housing, etc.
Pathways’ work has been based on a ‘community-building’ approach to publishing. By this, we mean gathering people and getting perspectives on free education – the movement ,histories, and debates – from people working and organising in different fields and different places. This includes students from different institutions and levels, workers and organisers from trade unions, progressive academics, social movement activists and others.
Having completed an MPhil in Human Rights Law at UCT, Lorna Houston is currently employed as the Programme Coordinator at Brave Rock Girl. Lorna was born into a black working-class family in Cape Town and was part of the South African liberation struggle and continued as a grassroots activist focussed on children, youth, education and […]
Pathways to Free Education is an autonomous collective interested and involved in radical education.