Senior UKZN Academic participates in ANC Public Debate
UKZN’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter, was part of a panel at the ANC’s Public Debate on Job Creation held at the University’s Westville campus.
Potgieter’s expert opinions and knowledge presented from an academic standpoint were well received by the audience, fellow academics and ANC members.
The topic of the debate - part of an ongoing series held monthly by the ANC to allow public discussion on its policies and programmes - was: “Is attainment of six million jobs in the next five years possible?”
Also on the panel were ANC Secretary-General, Comrade Gwede Mantashe; KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Mr Senzo Mchunu; Businessman, Mr Moses Tembe; and Mr Lindani Dhlomo from the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda).
Potgieter argued that creating six million jobs should not be a pipe dream and it was important to set goals to achieve the target.
Referring to one of her favourite Russian Psychologist Lev Vygotsky she said: ‘Vygotsky differs from mainstream Western psychologists in that he argues that development isn’t necessarily step by step. The child with support can jump a whole range of steps and achieve set goals.
‘My thinking in relation to the Government’s ambition of creating six million jobs is similar. Set goals, set a vision and provide the policy framework and resources for infrastructure development, healthcare and education.’
Emphasising the important role institutions of education provide, Potgieter said: ‘The Higher Education sector, and most definitely UKZN, is responding to the National Development Plan and other key policy documents to increase the pool of critical thinkers to take up job opportunities and to be the creators of jobs.’
She pointed out that jobs and education were the answer to reducing poverty. ‘In Higher Education, we need to produce and develop curriculum that creates critical thinkers - graduates who are professional and entrepreneurial, committed to social justice and building a better society. We also want graduates to support the creation of a non-racist, non-sexist, non-homophobic society.
‘If we graduate students who do not have this commitment, even if we have millions of jobs, we are not going to be able to move our country forward.’
Mantashe said the ANC was committed to making the creation of six million jobs a reality. ‘We will institutionalise long-term planning, co-ordination and integration; mobilise all sectors, more especially the private sector; force local procurement; accelerate the role of the catalytic sector, focus on youth unemployment and seek to promote investment and access to credit.’
Businessman Mr Moses Tembe said the goal had to be to reach the target of six million jobs. ‘We should be investing in human capital, increasing the pace in business and going back to the values of Ubuntu.’
Agreeing with Tembe on the human capital investment issue, Potgieter said women should be given support and skills to become small scale farmers, entrepreneurs and creators of jobs instead of just providing for the household - and it was the responsibility of universities and graduates to make that happen. ‘Graduates should be taught to cultivate the potential of each individual in the wider community. “Each one Teach one”.’
‘Education has a duty to inspire future responsible leaders who can manage and guide organisations for long term sustainable success as well as teach graduates to tackle real world issues such as the facilitation of job creation.’
Potgieter used the example of job creation and entrepreneurship by two university graduates Chris and Andrew Brown, Co-founders of The Daily Buzz, an upmarket and specialty chain of coffee bars servicing the corporate workplace. They won the 2013 Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year title in the annual Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year Competition.
‘A university graduated them with the critical skills to be entrepreneurs, to contribute to the ideology of social justice and to create jobs for themselves and others. We cannot only be looking to the Government; we need to do it as partners.’
Potgieter said Government needed to provide the scaffolding for education as well as the infrastructure, security and health which make the creation of good jobs possible. ‘The devil is in the detail and the devil is in the execution. Higher Education, business, and public sector need to operate together as partners - together we will move South Africa forward and together we can make South Africa a better place.’
- Melissa Mungroo