My Contribution to #Feesmustfall

#Feesmustfall has resulted in ‘innovative’ education entrepreneurship – typical of ‘get-go’ South Africans.

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Education entrepreneur, Hertzy Kabeya (pictured above) has engineered an educational – tech solution that focusses on ensuring that tertiary students pass and eventually graduate. This February, Kabeya’s company, The Student Hub, known for providing affordable study material, will launch ERAOnline.

ERAonline is an independent online study support platform that enables students to access tailored study support resources. “Our goal is to create the largest and most relevant Pan-African education platform that connects all stakeholders to serve learners and solve the systemic problem of the extremely high failure rate in the education industry,” says Kabeya.

In 2014 the Department of Higher Education and Training’s annual statistical report, which looked at the size and shape of post-school education and training in South Africa, reported that more than 85% of all undergraduate students enrolled at public universities fail their studies and drop out.

On Monday, 23 January 2017, the National Student Financial aid announced that it had deposited 1.3 billion towards the registration fees of qualifying students at universities and TVET colleges across the country. This is a result of the Fees Must Fall movement which started in 2015 as a response by students to the increase in fees at South African universities.

At the heart of the Fees Must Fall movement has been the question of access to education or the lack thereof for previously disadvantaged candidates who cannot afford the high fees, but qualify for admission. The solutions that both the Department of Higher Education and the National Student Financial Aid have explored have therefore been around providing access for these students by paying for their fees or at least their registration fees as it stands.

What hasn’t been at the fore of the discourse around access to education for the last two years has been the extremely high failure rate of students once they have been admitted.

The ERAonline team have worked tirelessly to explore ways in which the platform can help students “Learn Differently”, through collaboration with students from various institutions, the introduction an array of study options like video, step by step guides, an exam bank and specialised expert assistance.

The aim of the platform is to ultimately increase pass rates and help students who have been admitted to eventually graduate and become active members of the South African economy.

Hertzy Kabeya says, “the universities and the government have missed the fact that these issues have been brewing for a quite a while. Some of us in the private sector have not. Talking to students from previously disadvantaged communities over the past few years, we could hear their anger against the system which cares only about getting them in but neglects to assist them in getting out”.

Kabeya concludes, “The use of technology in the provision of education serves two major purposes. It would allow universities to deliver more targeted, easily updated education in a manner that modern students are more comfortable with. And, crucially, by automating processes it would help to bring down operating costs and help make university more affordable to underprivileged sectors of society.”

Circulated by Break Bread Group

Nasiphi Fazi