Monthly Archives: February 2013

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Poor, academically deserving students cannot get a university education because of their financial position, the chairman of Parliament’s portfolio committee on higher education Ishmael Malale, said on Wednesday (13 February).
“The debate is about access and the continued elitist thinking about education in our country which the government is funding,” said Malale, after higher education department officials briefed the committee on the enrollment process at universities and Further Education and Training (FET) colleges.

Over 250,000 students have been enrolled at FET colleges, while registration at universities is continuing.

Higher education director general Gwebunkundla Qonde, told MPs government had succeeded in improving access to education through increased allocations to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and the National Skills Fund.

The allocation for FET colleges in 2010 was R310m, which increased to R1.7bn last year. The 2013 allocation stood at just under R2bn.

Qonde said while the increases were substantial they were not enough to provide bursaries to all poor or deserving students.

“If you come to universities you actually get confronted with the same picture of huge increases that have been made available by government into the system. Are they sufficient? No. Are they huge? Yes,” Qonde said.

Malale and his fellow MPs were not convinced.

They said there were still too many cases of poor children who had excelled at school being excluded from higher learning institutions because they could not pay for tuition.

“The billions (of rand) which the state contributes to higher education indicates commitment to expand the system,” said Malale.

MPs said no child who was performing well academically should be excluded from universities and FET colleges.

Soure:Sapa via I-Net Bridge
SOURCE http://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/371/89304.html

Why is the Bredasdorp rape case getting all this attention?

Why such a focus on the Bredasdorp rape story when rape has become a regular occurrence all over South Africa? Here are some thoughts……

Ordinary people have had enough! Now, using new media as activists, concerned citizens, special interest groups, NGOs etc are forming coalitions, focus groups, and the like, to address public issues threatening our society and to pressure government to seriously address problems like violence against women and alcohol abuse for the benefit of society ….more…

1. Social media as sites of mobilization
The rise of ordinary people protesting, petitioning and advocating against violence and injustice in a participative, democratic manner is seeing a redefinition of the citizen. Through the use of social media, there is a growing activism culture focusing on creating awareness of issues impacting both the public and society and on getting people active in communities that were previously seen as marginalized and disempowered. This phenomenon of participation may be fragmented, but nevertheless is political-personal expression directed not only against those in power but could be leverage for positive social change. It represents new options for ordinary citizens to affect changes in social policy and behavior.

Here in South Africa people and groups have been voicing discontent about the numbers of violent rape cases for some time now but the powers weren’t listening nor responding adequately. Perhaps the traditional channels of expression were ineffective. Now the agitated citizenry is using the power of social media to circulate the protest and garner support and, it would seem, the Bredasdorp case came at the right moment when a number of factors came together simultaneously to carry it to such a great height in our discourse and our consciousness.

Hence, the growth of engagement with online pressure groups has resulted in new sites for creative activism and social change.. They offer great possibilities for bringing collective pressure to bear on political and corporate groups, resulting in action. Depending on the different situations, the subsequent action could suggest that, “social networking technology has come to play a larger role in both creating and maintaining corporate [and government] reputations and damaging them” (Beal et al., 2008). The phenomenon of a changing media environment of ‘continuous connectivity’ and ‘collective participation’, where citizens can participate in ongoing discussions and debates in the public sphere, is now contributing to a new form of political engagement. Citizens can use both traditional and new media to form pressure or advocacy groups to publicise and promote their views, activities and campaigns, and to win public support and grow their membership to pressure or lobby government, either advancing or staving off government regulations.

The Bredasdorp case confirms that the present state of violence, crime and corruption in South Africa has also resulted in a growth in public activism and a new kind of citizenship where citizens seek to educate themselves and maintain community vigilance. As citizens, using new media, they are developing discursive strategies to effect change in policy and practices, using petitioning and advocacy through the Internet, coalition building and aligning with social movements. Their voices join to form alternative identities and public sphere, and work in the interest of social change. This indicates people’s new-found ability to make judgments, and make decisions to communicate and generate awareness to mobilize others to action, thereby inducing the government to be more accountable and socially responsible.

Ultimately, ordinary citizens are exercising their political rights, using critical news coverage to stimulate social discussion and concerted actions and to create awareness through collective initiative and social movements, articulating interconnectivity between people of different classes, genders, and races, and acting as advocates for social change.

2. Political and Media manipulation

The media has always played a pivotal role in disseminating relevant information around social and public issues, raising points of argument from all sides of the debates. The media’s power to influence therefore is crucial to communicators – individuals, groups and organizations – who want to affect change in society, whether economic, social or political. How (through intensity, frequency etc) media present information and stories influences public perceptions.

Common strategies used by media to divert readers’ attention away from certain issues, people or actions (eg agenda setting, accumulation and framing) include placing undue focus on one news item while seeming to ignore similar stories elsewhere. Some might say that – as was stated in a recent news story – the ANC is strategizing to wrestle the Cape out of the hands of the DA in the next election. Speculators say there will be more negative news and criticism around events in the DA-led province to perhaps give the impression that the violence there is on the increase or that it is getting out of control – usually it’s areas like Limpopo that get much coverage for crime, violent rapes etc.

3. Women Activists for Women’s issues in the media
Women’s pressure groups are growing and are bringing all cases of violence against women into the open through the media in the hope that government will act to end this scourge. However, those in government, particularly the women, also want to be seen to be supporting these calls in the hope that the public will perceive them as part of the solution… Take a look at who is on the scene when the SABC TV cameras are rolling at the homes of victims – comforting and commenting….
Ends.

Aspiring communicators sharing their skills

With the growth of NGOs, advocacy groups and charities in South Africa, and the decline in funding to these extremely vital organisations in our society (Lotto has let many down), they are having to develop strategies to create awareness of their activities and to raise funds to survive. However, the volunteers who work for these groups are not qualified or skilled to carry out such communication and marketing activities. That is when educational institutions, as part of their community engagement or responsibility, must offer training services whereby interns from the university share their knowledge and skills to enable individuals and organisations in the local community to advance awareness and growth. At the same time the post graduate interns get hands-on training and research experience. They also develop a sense of the social needs of the local community…
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