Funding for higher education has been brought back onto the South African agenda by protesting students across all university campuses. The movement for free education has raised fundamental issues and debates that all sectors of society need to relook and develop solutions on how poor South African students can be given the opportunity to study as well as how to bridge the gap for the ‘missing middle’.
According to the National Development Plan (NDP) Vision 2030 education, training and innovation are central to South Africa’s long-term development. The core elements lie in eliminating poverty and reducing inequality and lay the foundation for an equal society. Higher education institutions are an integral part of the post-school system but are also the apex of education, training and innovation system. The schooling, colleges and higher education systems should be better articulated and allow for mobility of learners and staff. Corresponding to the NDP, in 2030 75% of university academic staff should hold a PhD. PhD graduates should be the dominant drivers of new knowledge production within the higher education and science innovation system.
However reaching the NDP’s Vision 2030 in relation to education, training and innovation comes with challenges outside of society’s control such as the low economic growth and the increase of unemployment year-on year. Recently the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth will remain flat at 0.1% noting that the economy will only experience a modest recovery in 2017.
These dynamics put more pressure on the poor and the ‘missing middle’ households to afford higher education as disposable household income becomes strained and reprioritised, it is therefore critical that strong collaborations are formed between government, private sector as well as civil society to address the challenges facing funding for higher education.
Kagiso Trust, a development NGO working for freedom from poverty, hosted their annual Bold Step Golf Challenge, sponsored by Kagiso Tiso Holdings (KTH), in October. The golf day was one of Kagiso Trust’s means of raising awareness and funds for rural youth under its bursary programme the Eric Molobi Scholarship Programme (EMSP). The Bold Step Campaign, which includes the Golf Challenge and Breakfast events, was started in 2012 and has raised more than R1 million to date. The funds are administered by the EMSP which was founded in 2006. Over R16.3 million has been invested in educating and supporting 122 students through the programme.
According to Kagiso Trust Education and Civil Society Programmes Head, Yoyo Sibisi, “We plan to grow our programme beyond the provision of bursaries to rural youth by extending our facilitation of job placements and skills support for in-service training and internships. We also intend on expanding our footprint to include exposure to career paths available through TVET colleges. Through these initiatives, we strive to ensure our students have a better chance of being employable and make a direct impact on their communities. However, this can only be achieved through various collaborations such as with the private sector.”
KTH Head of Communications and Corporate Social Investment, Theresa Griffiths notes, “KTH decided to get involved and sponsor the 2016 Bold Step Golf Challenge as education is a good cause for us and more needs to be done to provide funding and access to higher education.”
Other organisations that took part in the Bold Step Golf Challenge included Actom, MMI Holdings, Kagiso Capital, Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, Jacaranda FM, Idwala, Kagiso Asset Management and Star Hero Media Group among other strategic guests.
Pics from the golf challenge: https://www.facebook.com/pg/kagisotrust/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1237997982887648