The youth of the great Mpondoland has long been vocal about the need for a University in Lusikisiki. Mpondand (Lusikisikisi, Port St Johns, Ntabankulu, Flagstaff & Mbizana) people have long been at a disadvantage, having to move to other places in pursuit of institutions of higher learning. The local youth residents in Lusikisiki mobilised and gathered in huge numbers on the 7th of January 2019 to march for the realisation of this endeavour. The march started downtown in Lusikisiki moving across the town to Lusikisiki College of Education, the intended and readily available infrastructure that is targeted to be changed into the University of Mpondoland. The following is motivated by the words of those that were present in the march. Their points were ranging from:
“In the course of self-actualization of our country through transformation, we want to have our own university in our own land. A university not only caters and renders education (sic), but it is likely to enhance intellectual skills that will cater for basic jobs, improves the manufacturing and construction industry but equally it enhances promotions, earns raises yet also developing reasoning and communication skills that develop an individual, community and the country as a whole, which is therefore necessary for the fourth industrial revolution on a global scale,” said Zukisa Sigcu, one of those leading the march.
Throughout the country there’s an influx of university students who not only are Mpondo but come from the Mpondoland, yet there’s still a high number of those at the varsity phase that are still at home, which is a problem. Them being home is subject to various reasons amongst them is the national shortage of university spaces that is evident to the number of matriculating students compared to the number of university intake per annum ( in the 2014-2015 the institute of race relations stats showed University of Pretoria accepted 10,500 out of 42,000 applicants, Wits accepted 6,255 out of 51,000 applicants, UWC accepted 4000 of 25000 applicants) throughout the years since then universities have been facing strikes due to the low intake. In cases where those few have been admitted there’s an additional issue of residence shortage which you find most students from the Mpondoland being victims of.
Universities have a blueprint that affects how a student progresses, and much of that blueprint’s effects are detrimental to the well-being of a student, addressing the distance-relationship between the student and family could assist in how that blueprint affects the student child, so we owe it to ourselves to try and give children an option to choose to study close to home or far from home, for some are forced to leave the Mpondoland due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, like moving for better education prospects. There have been reported cases in various Universities around the country of unwelcoming conditions of living, leading to depression, higher dropout rates and cases of suicide.
“The youth in the Mpondoland have slowly fallen into doing what the country fears most, crime. Crime has increased, especially by our local youth and the evidence of that is visible through the recent rise of a phenomenon no man has ever seen in this country before, where there was a recent outbreak of barbaric rascals called Amavondo. Another narrative on amavondo would be that they were a group of young males who had no means or prospects of going to university or furthering their education, who then resorted to crime. After that had been dealt with there was another rise of criminal youth called amaPara and other such criminal elements, but the most saddening one is how things have been sugar coated in how we dealt with them for those criminal acts.
There has been an outcry from the community for a provision of options to make a living, either through education or the attainment of jobs, and the best response we obtained was an increased employment of policemen and an improved jail facility which takes a higher number of criminals; yet, it is possible that all they were crying for is an option for equal opportunities to make a living. Having a rehabilitation facility with an available university would best suit the objectives of not just incarceration but empowering and changing people’s lives. “The memorandum was handed to Deputy District Director of Education in Lusikisiki Mr Lusiba deployed by MEC of Higher Education Mr M Mvoko and has signed the petition with the note saying the response is expected within 14 working days. The petition had these points amongst others:
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What should we be doing?