Call to action at New Hope Summit 2012
Active citizenship is crucial for the youth of today in light of fundamental changes sweeping the globe, former University of Cape Town (UCT) Vice-Chancellor Dr Mamphela Ramphele told delegates to the New Hope Summit recently.The annual event, now in its third year, was hosted by UCT during the first weekend of August. For the first time, participation was extended beyond Stellenbosch University (SU), UCT and the University of the Western Cape to also include Boland College, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and False Bay College.
Student delegates engaged in critical dialogue around pertinent issues in higher education. The aim was to find tangible ways to recommend to the government what can be done, but also to help solve the problems the system is currently grappling with.
This year saw the implementation of various commissions, which enabled students to engage around such concerns as unemployment, access and success, funding, transformation and social cohesion. There was lots of lively debate, and the need was expressed for discussions to be continued after the summit.
Student leaders were encouraged to go beyond the agendas of their own organisations in advocating for issues important to all students.Delegates were challenged to “move from hope to action”. SU delegate Gabriela Carolus said, “The message of hope is not that of any institution, but of a nation and of students addressing core issues within higher education.”
In April, SU delegates prepared for the Summit with a workshop hosted by the Student Representative Council (SRC) and the Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert Institute for Student Leadership Development. The Institute is an initiative of SU’s HOPE Project, a set of development goals through which the University seeks sustainable solutions to major societal challenges in South Africa and the rest of the continent.
Delegates to the New Hope Summit 2012 resolved to compile a document with feedback on the Green Paper for Post-School Education and Training, released for comment by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) in January. – WAYDE GROEP