Trade union group Solidarity (Solidariteit) have been talking big this week, after unveiling their plans for NetWerk. The project plans to inject billions into an education system that works for South Africans… but they aren’t looking at fixing what may already be broken. They are looking to create a completely new “alternative Afrikaans education system”.
Their plans would run on an alternative basis to the current curriculum, and the blueprints consist of establishing independent vocational colleges, as well as a brand new university and opportunities to “learn on the job”. Work placements and mentorships would also feature in this vision of the future.
Afrikaans education system “to rival the one provided by government”
During a conference on Thursday, Solidarity revealed their grand plans to the public – which will be financed by a whopping R4.5 billion kitty. The group remain tight-lipped on who is financing the project but did reveal at least one company who has invested in them: Property agents Canton are set to plough money into the proposed university.
Dirk Hermann is the chief executive of Solidarity. This extraordinary proposal is rooted in political motivation, according to him. Hermann believes it is time for Afrikaaners to take “a hard stance” against the perceived lack of support for their community. Armed with a multi-billion Rand war-chest, he says it’s time to “build our well”:
“The Solidarity NetWerk is a giant leap into the future. Although emigration is again a hot conversation, most people just stay here. It does not help to fall into despair. We only have one alternative and that is to take and build our well.”
“We have to tackle the bull at the horns and create the conditions to stay here free, safe and prosperous. The fact that the Solidarity NetWerk is investing so much in training is a hard political stance that says we are staying here and planning for the next generation.”
Akademia: Where will the money be spent?
Naming the university “Akademia”, the centre will boast the following amenities:
- A fully fledged university campus.
- Sports fields.
- Student residences and recreational facilities.
- Vocational training colleges – such as Sol-Tech – will also get a modern campus with residences and sports facilities.
Solidarity bemoan “obsession with race”
Solidarity won’t just stop at creating their alternative Afrikaans education network, either. Hermann has vowed to “fight the government’s obsession with race”, promising to raise complaints with the UN over what he sees as the marginalisation of Afrikaner citizens.
Concerns have been raised by those who speak one of South Africa’s most popular languages. Earlier this year, the University of Pretoria dropped Afrikaans as a language of instruction, creating an uproar amongst civil rights groups like AfriForum and Solidarity.
The backlash now seems to have manifested itself into these ambitious plans. Solidarity’s promise to create their own education system will no doubt raise concerns – and get tongues wagging – all across the country. But with this sort of financial clout, there’s every chance an alternative education system could come to fruition in Mzansi.