WHAT’S A DE­GREE WORTH TO­DAY?

CityPress - - Voices - Muano Liphadzi voices@ city­press. co. za

Dur­ing my high school years, we were told that hav­ing an education would al­ways keep us from the “gates of poverty”, and I firmly be­lieved that. Lit­tle did I know that the youth of to­day would face the scourge of un­em­ploy­ment that re­mains en­trenched in our democ­racy.

Hail­ing from the small vil­lage of Phiphidi in the Lim­popo prov­ince, I set my­self some large, yet achiev­able, goals: grad­u­at­ing from a rep­utable in­sti­tu­tion and get­ting a good job were up­per­most.

I ful­filled my dream to study at ter­tiary level and grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of the Free State with a BA de­gree in com­mu­ni­ca­tion sci­ence. How­ever, I failed to get the good job I al­ways dreamt of.

Dur­ing my years of study, I saw how my par­ents cashed out poli­cies so that they could in­vest in my education. I promised my­self I would never fail them. They played their role as sup­port­ive par­ents and I was de­ter­mined to play mine as a dili­gent stu­dent so I could take care of them in their time of need.

I know my par­ents are not the only ones who in­vested their life sav­ings in their child’s school­ing and sub­se­quent

Is higher education a worth­while pur­suit, given the eco­nomic

cri­sis?

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cost R1.50 ter­tiary education. There are par­ents who do not have de­cent jobs and have to eke out a liv­ing, but de­spite their harsh cir­cum­stances, they scrimp and save to give their child a bet­ter life than the one they are lead­ing.

But how do you suc­ceed in a coun­try where un­em­ploy­ment is rife? Do your peers back in the vil­lage still look up to you as a role model when you have noth­ing to show for those years of study?

How, then, can you con­vince them that education is the key to suc­cess?

Th­ese ques­tions are al­ways top of mind, es­pe­cially since I grap­ple to find sat­is­fac­tory an­swers. I still re­gard education as the key to suc­cess – but it is a bro­ken key, be­cause you don’t know whether that key will open the gates for you or not.

It seems as if the no­tion of education as a ca­reer liftoff is be­com­ing more of a cliché and, as such, it will be­come harder to per­suade or­di­nary cit­i­zens liv­ing in poverty to take education se­ri­ously.

For those who have just grad­u­ated, the days of de­pend­ing on their par­ents for fi­nan­cial sup­port are far from over. I can­not imag­ine how they must be feel­ing about the un­em­ploy­ment cri­sis.

Af­ter slog­ging to get that de­gree and equat­ing their cer­tifi­cate with a ticket out of poverty, all those hours of

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