LETTER: SA’s real stumbling block
The absence of a mentality to drive and thrive under adversity is more significant than a lack of funding
Regrettably, I must counter every point made by Rabelani Dagada in his column (The way to improve SA throughput and quality, January 16), save one. The real stumbling block is not a lack of funding at all but the absence of a mentality to drive and thrive under adversity.
“Necessity is the mother of invention”, as we know, yet student leaders demand “free” tertiary education, while ministers tell the youth that a rate of 30%-correct is passable when performing your job. Easy money leads to complacency and then laziness, as does easy passing.
And why should municipalities spend their rates and service income on funding universities when a much more rewarding contribution on their part would be to allow the huge information stockpiles they sit on, to be critically analysed without fear or favour?
That academics remain able bodied much longer (into their 70s) than physical labourers is not disputed. However, it has been amply demonstrated that true originality and innovation comes in your 20s and 30s.
No, our real bottleneck is attitude; students are not demanding an Asian-style, hard-skill orientated syllabus but an African, and decolonialised, one. It is not facts and statistics that they value most of all but an eradication of iconography, and even history.
I wholeheartedly endorse that academics should no longer be promoted based on their publications in what are closed, or nonpublic, and obscure journals. Instead, they should get promoted based on the number or value of intellectual property registrations generated at and in favour of the university as a revenue stream. A share any royalties would also go to the staff and students involved.
Thus, sadly, it is not better research which will set the economy alight, but childish and misguided demands which are given credence by figures in authority who do know better.