‘We’ve become a nation of job takers, not job makers’ — Prof Mohammad Karaan

When asking students what they plan to do after graduating, most tend to say that they plan to “find a job”. This is a primary problem facing South Africa today. “We have become a nation of job takers, not job makers.”

Prof Mohammad Karaan addressing attendees at the seminar (Photo: Adrian Baillie-Stewart)

This is according to Prof Mohammad Karaan, Dean of the Faculty of AgriSciences at Stellenbosch University (SU) and a member of the National Planning Commission. Karaan delivered the keynote address at a public seminar of the Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert Institute for Student Leadership Development (FVZS Institute) held at the new AmaMaties Hub on Wednesday (25 July 2012).

The FVZS Institute is an initiative of the SU’s HOPE Project and the seminar formed part of the Maties for Mandela Week.

Karaan was emphatic when saying the “leadership does not come from the top politician in the country, but rather that leadership [ought to] come from everybody taking responsibility”. This is something however, which he believes our country has lost.

Discussing notable points from the National Development Plan – Vision for 2030, by way of example, Karaan highlighted corruption that has become so pervasive in South African society. “The leadership challenge is not merely the reduction, but total elimination of corruption. Corruption levels throughout society have become too high, both in the government and private sectors,” he said. “We have created a society of people whose entire existence is about, ‘how much can I grab, and how quickly!’”.

Dr Leslie van Rooi, Head of the FVZS Insitute, takes questions from the floor (Photo: Adrian Baillie-Stewart )

The current generation is seemingly set on reaping the benefits of Mandela’s legacy, but are not willing to partake in creating positive change, says Karaan. “Nation building and social cohesion are the most important parts upon which our future will be built… if you want to have a future, you have to be willing to share it, and sharing starts with charity and being charitable,” he said.

Closing his keynote address, Karaan ended with encouraging words, informing those Maties students in attendance, that South Africa’s development “lies in the hands of those who are going to command that future”.

Also speaking at the event, Dr Leslie van Rooi, Head of the FVZS Institute mentioned that the ‘student success’ idea is all about delivering “graduates that are skilled in terms of what they can do — not only as individuals — but also in terms of what they can invest in society.” He believes graduate skills need to be transferrable to society, as this fits well with the ideal of service and serving South African society.

Van Rooi explained that the idea behind devoting 67 minutes of one’s time during Maties for Mandela Week is imperative, because “it reminds us of the role we can play in society”. He concluded that this relates back to the achievement of well-rounded academic and social success as a Matie student.

After seminar formalities were concluded, Anina Botha, SRC Chair (far right), interacts with visiting students from the University of Namibia (Photo: Adrian Baillie-Stewart )

Student success is the central common objective of the HOPE Project and the FVZS Institute.

Anina Botha, Chair of the Student Representative Council, reminded attendees that Nelson Mandela once famously said, “education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world”. She believes that education is key to solving [many] development needs in South Africa today. She adds that Maties need to take ownership of some of South Africa’s challenges through the application of the ‘3 ships’ principle; namely, mentorship, citizenship & leadership. Botha closed her address with the words: “it’s not about ‘survival of the fittest’, but about making everyone as fit as everyone else”. – ADRIAN BAILLIE-STEWART