Rhodes Must Recall: Education according to an Ukufunda Editor

My name is Dani, and I am powerless.
(Hiiii, Dani.)

It’s been sixteen years since I began a relationship with education institutions and even though there’s overwhelming evidence to suggest they’re terrible for you I’ve never had any really bad experiences. In fact, I’m one of those weird people who liked school. And who would go back, despite loving the fact that university has made me independent enough to burn 2 Minute Noodles on my very own stove.

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A University By Any Other Name

by Dani Kreusch

Like Rhodes, Kyoto University is watched over by a magnificent clock tower. This is, strange as it may seem, not the only thing the two universities have in common. Photo by: Dani Kreusch

Like Rhodes, Kyoto University is watched over by a magnificent clock tower. This is, strange as it may seem, not the only thing the two universities have in common. Photo by: Dani Kreusch

The name of any object is highly significant to us humans. It’s why we name our pets and sometimes our cars and appliances, and why names are the first things taken away or altered by slavers, jailers and oppressors. As humans, we are symbolic beings, and names connote deeper meanings. If you are terrified of dogs, the word will evoke fear and distrust. If your everyday life is a struggle to get at the things colonialism first stripped from your ancestors, a name like Rhodes could symbolize this struggle, the lack of access and the ongoing discrimination.

Changing the name of this university, then, is a meaningful pursuit.

But, my problem with the ongoing name change debate is that all of the issues that people want addressed and changed have been reduced to the fight to change the name. People are convinced that a name change will effect deep changes to curricula, straddle barriers to epistemological access faced by disadvantaged students and democratise institutional cultures and the demographic profile of faculty and the university leadership. Continue reading

Coping with mental disorders at university

It’s a beautiful, sunny day outside, but I’m curled into a ball in the corner of my dark bedroom, with my knees drawn to my chest and tears streaming uncontrollably down my face. I feel like sleeping until everything hurts a little less but my body and brain aren’t cooperating and have simply shut down. I try to scream, but no one hears me. I cry and shake violently, convinced that the only thing I have left to offer the world is the permanent removal of my presence from it, but, I’m too scared… too tired to do anything about it anyway.

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The Transformative Power of Education

By Mitchell Parker

People attend university to receive an education. However, beyond the world of textbooks and seminars there is fundamental social learning taking place that influences the way in which students interact with each other and the world at large.

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The discomforting white space that is Rhodes

By Lesedi Ntuli

Most people would agree that attending university can have a substantial effect on one’s life because higher education, as we all know, equals better employment opportunities. But there are other factors in these institutions that affect our experiences, factors such as race.

When I applied to Rhodes University five years ago, I honestly did not know what to expect, but my parents knew what I was getting myself into. “You do know that that university was built on white success, right?” my parents would ask. “Ka nnete setso sa yunivesiti e ea hao se sweufetse.” (Truly speaking, the culture there is still very white.)

You see, my parents are the kind who have always been deeply invested in politics and strongly believe that the educational institutions in this country were built to cultivate “the white man’s” ideologies. Though I refused to admit it, they were right. Continue reading

Language and education in South Africa

by Dani Kreusch

The complex language situation in our country has been proven over the years to be one of the biggest factors in South Africa’s failing education system. Specifically, linguists have found that learning in one’s home language signifantly increases how quickly, easily and permanently knowledge is acquired.

Not being able to take the first three years of school in their home language leaves children failing general international benchmark tests by grade four. A lack of access to and engagement with children’s literature in home languages has similar effects much earlier than fourth grade. And these effects extend beyond benchmark tests and school marks. “Consequently,” wrote linguist Herbert Ngouo, “the rural masses which should be the main beneficiaries of innovations have been marginalised because they do not master the language used to transfer knowledge.”

Local languages being put aside effects identity that is so strongly associate with them, Ngouo said, and not giving languages their proper place in development endeavors delays the process of decentralisation — the process of allowing all parts of the population participate actively in “shaping their destiny in terms of cultural and economic development”.

It’s by no means an easy or straightforward issue, but there are some steps that need to be taken in order for language debates to be treated seriously enough that change can happen. Continue reading

Language of Learning

By Carol Kagezi

Earlier this year a team of six second-year Journalism and Media Studies students investigated the role of the English language at university and the impact it has on a multilingual environment such as Rhodes University. Their investigation was done at a time when campus was buzzing with talks of institutional transformation. They produced a radio show with Professor Leonhard Praeg from the Political and International Studies department and Zikisa Maqubela, incumbent SRC President, as their guests.

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