Picture: 123RF/STUDIOM1
Picture: 123RF/STUDIOM1

The ACA (Association for Communication & Advertising NPC) announced last week it has sold its share of the AAA School of Advertising to Richfield Holdings (Pty) Ltd.  One of the key aspects of the Richfield offering, said the ACA, is Richfield’s ability to incorporate technology into tertiary education.

Boniswa Pezisa, outgoing chair of the ACA maintains that Richfield’s offering of blended learning, educational instruction and top facilities will provide a new and successful base for the AAA, providing it with increased opportunities to grow and provide a breed of graduates who are work ready and will ultimately benefit the industry.

The news has received mixed responses from the industry. Ignitive MD and this year’s AdFocus chair, Phumi Mashigo, believes the sale of the AAA to Richfield will in time shut down access to the school for many students because of unaffordable costs. “In our country where, sadly, quality higher education costs are prohibitive for the majority of students, the AAA school has been able to create a pipeline of diversified talent for the advertising and marketing industry at reasonable cost. This sale will ultimately shut down this access,” she says.

At a time when numerous industries are ploughing millions into education budgets channelled through bursaries and schools programmes to try to create an interest in their critical skills areas, Mashigo says the advertising and communications industry had the benefit of its own school that supplied it with a pipeline of talent.

The big take-out

The ASA has sold its shareholding in the AAA to Richfield

“One of the big benefits of the AAA was that the industry could influence the way the school prepared young people for our specific needs,” she says. “This move, however, puts the fate of our skills requirements in the hands of an institution that has the interests of its own shareholders top of mind rather than the best interests of our industry.”

The ACA, however, says that though it will no longer be a shareholder in the AAA, the benefits of its relationship with the AAA will continue, with both parties signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will keep the ACA involved for at least the next three years. Furthermore, the ACA will continue to promote the AAA and assist it with industry activities as it has done in the past. 

Pezisa says the sale of the AAA took place as a means to safeguard the institution and its legacy as well as ensuring that it’s fit for the future and maintains its standing within the advertising, marketing, communications and media professions. He adds that the MOU will ensure that the profession will continue to benefit from a sustained pool of qualified talent from the AAA.

Richfield  CEO Jay Ramnundlall  says he sees synergy between the way in which the ad and communications industry disrupts and drives change and Richfield, which has pioneered disruptive methods and technologies in terms of tuition and the cost of education. He believes that with the backing of Richfield, the AAA is ready for the future and will be stronger than ever. The sale was made effective as of January 1 2018, with Richfield assuming a management role with immediate effect.