Photo: flickr/Gage Skidmore

Global student stories – 05 November 2015

This week’s student stories from around the world, including a whole lot of protests. From Donald Trump to turntable rallies, Sarah and Clara take a look at the biggest stories from across the globe.

South Africa: protests continue after fees victory

Demonstrations continue in South Africa after president Jacob Zuma agreed to freeze tuition fees on Friday.

The movement began on 14 October in protest against the proposed 10-12% fee hike but has developed into the largest nationwide protest since the end of the apartheid.

It now demands greater racial equality (hyperlink: in universities and free education for all, as promised by the current government over 20 years ago.

The country has a National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), which this year subsidised over 400,000 out of 900,000 public university students.

However, many fall in the gap between being too rich to qualify for the scheme and too poor too afford fees, which are on average R 100,000 a year.

Angered by Zuma’s decision to announce the freeze from inside a media room instead of directly to the crowds waiting outside, students continue to campaign and three universities remain closed.

Police have used tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons against protesters.
A popular placard reads: “Our parents were made promises in 1994. We’re just here for the refund.”

Students also hope to postpone the exams they are due to take next week.

Japan: students protest security reform with turntables

Tokyo’s iconic Shibuya crossing was flooded with students in designer street-wear earlier this month, protesting prime minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial security reform bill, armed with loudspeakers and turntables.

The bill, which was passed a month before the demo, has faced widespread opposition and called to question to nature of democracy in Japan.

It reinterprets the post-WW2 constitution, enabling the military to engage in overseas conflicts as opposed to being a purely defensive force.

The protests, which began a year ago, are led by the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs), and have received media attention for their striking style, visuals and party ambiance, contrasting the last rallies of that scale in the 1960s.

SEALDs has also campaigned (unsuccessfully) against: a bill criminalising journalists and whistleblowers for the publication of “sensitive” information; high tuition fees and rising wage inequality.

It recently called for opposition parties to form a united front against the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Aki Okuda, the 23-year-old founder of SEALDs, has toned down his public appearances since he recently received death threats against his family.

France: WWF pushes students to protest against climate change

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has launched a student-orientated challenge in France to teach teenagers of the dangers of climate change and how they can prevent it.

This is all part of the coming COP21, also known as the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be held in Paris next month.

WWF have called it “Cafe Panda”, a name that would enable students to have a more relaxed atmosphere while discussing important issues. It was first established in 2011.

The first step will be to allow the students to reflect on what is going on around the world. This will take place in numerous schools around France for half a day.

Schools are able to choose between various themes, such as biodiversity and sustainability. More than 500 students have already signed up to take part, including undergraduates from the Paris School of Business and Grenoble Ecole de Management.

According to WWF, this will all have a point system where schools across the country will compete to see who is the most environmentally-conscious. For instance, if they dedicate one day per month to discuss these issues, they will receive 1500 points.

On Earth Day,19 March 2016, the three best schools will be awarded for their efforts.

USA: students in Iowa protest against Donald Trump

Students from West High School, Sioux City (Iowa), lined up in protest outside the establishment as they tried to “silence Trump”.

Donald Trump was scheduled to give a rally on 27 October. This is his second rally in the state in less than a week.

Over 600 people were present, ranging from current students to alumni to even the school board.

Their goal was to show solidarity and protect students who are being targeted by Trump’s racially-charged anti-immigration policies.

According to the protesters, Trump’s rhetoric is already affecting the day-to-day lives of many minority students.

Teenagers have been using his derogative phrases and hate speech to torment Latino kids, suggesting that they are all illegal immigrants and criminals.

More than a third of the students attending West High are Hispanic. The protest was not cancelled by the school as they strongly promote anti-bullying policies and freedom of speech.

As the protest was held along a main road, passers-by responded accordingly: some with cheerful honks, others with rude comments.


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