Universities Must Play A Bigger Role In Rebuilding Economy: Prof. Francis Peterson

South Africa is in trouble and it will find it difficult to overcome and build a thriving economy on the back of a divided society. Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, Professor Francis Peterson says the education sector has a role to play.



The rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, Professor Francis Peterson has penned an opinion piece. He says South Africa is in trouble.

In it, Peterson says it is impossible to build a thriving economy on the back of a divided society.

He says the educations sector has a role to play. By that, he means that it should be much easier for tertiary institutions to find employment opportunities for their graduates or prepare them for the entrepreneurial world.

However, looking at the current state of the country from a broader perspective, Peterson says that the country's economy has been tethering on the brink of collapse since the pre-pandemic period.

He says that the ensuing events that followed only showed more of the existing divisions and the unwillingness of its society to build its economy. Peterson said that this is not a conducive societal environment for graduates.

If we look at the subsequent events that played out, the corruption the Zondo commission has brought to the fore, the looting and violence that happened in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and you start to ask, is this a society that is mature and could work collaboratively to build an economy? The graduate is a critical component of that. 

"But you have graduates operating in a country where the economy is not flourishing and secondly you feel that there is a division between different groups in the country." He adds.

Peterson says that there needs to be more critical reflection on what the role of universities is in a society. He says that universities need to be more engaged in their society and properly understand their society.

He says that by doing this universities stand a better chance of gaining and integrating other knowledge systems from other sectors of society as they are not the only custodians of knowledge.

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