BY FLAVIA DAVIDS
Just in time for Human Rights Day, Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Social Justice Team kicked off its year with a virtual first Social Justice Café meeting on Microsoft Teams. The atmosphere in the virtual room was jubilant as Prof Thuli Madonsela, the Social Justice chair, informed the participants that the students who were part of the #Action4Inclusion campaign had received debt clearance for the years 2019 and 2020.
The café, which took place last Thursday, was facilitated by Madonsela, who also serves as Musa-Plan convener at SU, while Mr Seliki Thlabane, chief director of curriculum enhancement programmes in the Department of Basic Education, served as the keynote speaker of the event.
With the belief that, “If one person stands up, it strengthens the spines of others,” According to Madonsela, the #Action4Inclusion campaign was created to assist 54 students with financial difficulties, with the belief that
If one person stands up, it strengthens the spines of others.
The café’s panellists were Hlonelwa Luthuli, a final year LLB student, and Kate Roodt, who works at SU’s Centre for Student Leadership, Experiential Education and Citizenship.
Its discussion centred around education and how the coronavirus pandemic worsened the existing inequalities within the education system.
The cafés are hosted with the objective of involving the youth in discussions regarding social justice and human rights, and forms part of the Musa-Plan initiative. The initiative is a research-based programme aiming to accelerate social justice. This is done by collecting data that can assist the state in ending the country’s poverty crisis and creating broader socio-economic inclusion.
Various insights were shared by panellists, participants and the keynote speaker. While Roodt mentioned the importance of knowing the context and assisting students where we can, Luthuli noted that, in order for there to be digital inclusion and equal access, “[It is necessary] to acknowledge the disparities among institutions of higher learning that impact students’ access to online learning.” The next Social Justice Café will be held on 21 April this year via Microsoft Teams. For more information, visit the Social Justice Chair’s website https://socialjustice.sun.ac.za/, its Twitter account @CFSJ_MPlan or its Facebook account Social Justice M-Plan.