#FeesMustFall activist wins international award
South African student activist Fasiha Hassan has won an international prize awarded by Norwegian students.
As one of the leaders of the #FeesMustFall movement‚ Hassan won the Student Peace Prize (SPP) on Tuesday for her “nonviolent efforts towards gaining equal access to higher education”.
The prize was established in 1999 and is awarded biennially to students or student organisations promoting peace‚ human rights and democracy.
“Even though South Africa has one of the world’s most progressive constitutions‚ the division between white people and black people is propagated by high levels of economic inequality‚” the selection committee said.
They commended Hassan’s fight for the right to education and breaking down racial divisions.
“As a part of her effort to change a system that emphasises white privilege in the upper classes‚ Hassan has proposed concrete economic and structural solutions in meetings with political authorities. After extensive pressure from the student movement‚ then-president Jacob Zuma announced in 2017 that higher education would be made free in South Africa.”
Hassan was the former Wits SRC deputy secretary-general. She recently joined the ANC’s communications team and is the deputy president of the South African Union of Students (SAUS).
She told TimesLIVE on January 24 last year: “The consensus is that education is currently administered as a privilege when it is actually a public good.”
She said at the time that the reality facing the country was flat economic growth‚ high unemployment‚ poverty and inequality. She further lamented that education was fundamental in breaking this cycle.
“Transform education system to break this cycle. It is not the question of money. We cannot afford not to give education that priority.”
Norway’s deputy foreign minister‚ Marianne Hagen‚ said Hassan reminded the students of their power.
“I hope that Hassan’s impressive effort to achieve equal access to education and social justice in South Africa will inspire others to engage themselves.”
The prize will be awarded at the International Student Festival in Trondheim‚ Norway in February next year.