26 August 2015 Volume :3 Issue :39

Barter the Medium of Exchange at UKZN Trade School

Barter the Medium of Exchange at UKZN Trade School
Pietermaritzburg campus Trade School.

A Trade School will be held on the Pietermaritzburg campus from 9-12 September.

The Trade School movement, made up of self organised barter-for-knowledge schools across the world, started in 2010 with a small group of friends in New York and spread to Virginia and later Milan in Italy in 2011. Since then it had reached big cities on almost every continent except Africa until April this year when the first Trade School was run on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus by a small group of staff and students.

Trade Schools are organsised by volunteers who operate as a non-hierarchical collective with anyone able to be a teacher or a student. The Trade School concept disrupts the idea that only certain people have knowledge or skills, and that it is necessary to pay money to learn something.

However, it recognises that time and energy are valuable, and so classes are not free

The concept operates along these lines:

‘Teachers’ propose classes and ask for barter items from ‘students’. Barter items could be anything, but the emphasis is often on time and energy, rather than things. For example, if a person teaches a class about knitting socks, they could ask students to bring interesting knitting patterns, or wool, or knitting needles, or demonstrate a new stitch, or promise to donate the socks they knit to a local charity, or to pass on their skills to others. However, the “teacher” could also ask for fresh vegetables, or second-hand books, or for a recommendation of a place that serves really good coffee and allows a customer to sit and work on a laptop for hours!

“Students” sign up for classes by agreeing to bring a barter item for the “teacher”.

The Trade School on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus in April this year offered classes on the following – circle gardening; philosophies of praxis and emancipation: Marx and Gramsci; instant fabric printing for beginners; Palestine 101; making beaded jewellery; common household herbs and their uses; review of life and worker action; myths about rape; debate or indoctrination: teaching religion in schools; basic web design; and cooking for beginners.

‘Teachers’ included academic staff, administrative staff, students (undergraduate and postgraduate), and people unconnected to UKZN. Classes were typically about two hours long, although it varied from class to class, and were open to all.

Anyone interested in teaching or attending a class at the next Trade School should visit the website: http://www.tradeschool.coop/pmb/ For more information e-mail:


Trade School Collective

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