By Wesley Diphoko, Founder and Director, Kaya Labs, @wesleydiphoko

I Propose A Free Education Project For 2016

In 2013, Gloria Sekwena died during a stampede at the University of Johannesburg. She was queueing to register her son to study medicine. The reality is that there was not enough space at the university to accept everyone who wanted to study medicine at that institution. Each year there are long queues and chaotic scenes in South African universities due to limited space.
 
The #FeesMustFall movement in 2014 has reminded South Africans of the need to enable the youth to access education. Although the fees have fallen to a certain extent, South African universities cannot practically accommodate everyone who has the desire to study.
 
Academic institutions were not designed to accommodate the current demand for education. They were designed during a period when only a few were privileged enough to access such facilities.
 
The next evolution of education has to take into account the current demands for education.  We are now living in the New Digital Age that has opened access to education beyond buildings and facilities. In responding to these changes, Kaya Labs was designed and developed to provide all South Africans who have the desire to study, with access to education. It is a platform that includes online and offline educational components.
 
Kaya Labs’ features educational material that is endorsed by institutions across the world as well as leading experts in each field. This online component and learning material is accessible to everyone. However, it remains inaccessible to the South African youth who reside in townships and have limited internet access.
 
For this reason, an offline learning platform has been created in the form of a lab where young people from townships can access educational content. The prototype of this lab is currently operating in Kayamandi Township, Stellenbosch.
 
In view of the need to reach out to South African youth in townships and in response to the call for Access to Education by the #FeesMustFall movement, bold action is required.
 
Proposal:

A need exists in South Africa to ensure that no one ever dies or becomes indebted in their pursuit of a good education. To meet this need, we will work towards enabling every township and rural village in South Africa with access to education using the Kaya Labs platform. But we cannot do it in isolation. We need committed South Africans to support this vision in the following ways:

1. Education Champions
 
In each township, there is a need for an education champion – someone who will be at the forefront of driving learning efforts within the community.
 
2. Education Facility
 
Each township needs to identify a building that can become an access point for education in the community. This will be a place where young people can access learning material. It will also be a place where young people can collaborate on education projects.
 
3. Education Projects
 
Learning should include a practical component – the application of what was learnt. A part of this process could involve communities identifying local challenges that can be turned into projects for learners, who will be given the opportunity to develop solutions.  These projects will serve as evidence of practical advancement and competence, which will positively affect their potential for employment and funding.
 
4. Experts
 
The best people to learn from are people with field experience and insight. These include entrepreneurs, activists and leading professionals, who will be encouraged to contribute to this educational project by sharing their knowledge with young people within the educational environment provided.
 
5. Recognition
 
Candidates who complete these courses will not carry formal academic certification but will showcase their projects as part of their knowledge, insight and abilities. Their profiles will be showcased online where they can be accessed and recognized by potential employers and funders. It is vital therefore that candidates be recognised by outside institutions using an online badge system that will be created.
 
6. Government Support
 
Lastly, government support will be necessary to recognise this institution as a legitimate environment for people to learn. It is imperative that the project is validated and supported by those in power.
 
This proposal is the beginning of a new approach to education and practical learning. In 2016, we have an opportunity to transform how people access education. All we need to do is to take a bold action and contribute where we can.
 
If you are interested in contributing towards the Free Education Project – 2016, please email wesleydiphoko@gmail.com.

This article is featured in the Heavy Chef  Review magazine - Education Edition. Download it here.

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