1. What is UP FES Democracy School
It is the mission of the University of Pretoria (UP) to pursue excellence in its core functions of research, teaching and learning, and to deliver quality graduates with a sound academic base and leaders who will be responsible citizens and contribute positively towards building an equitable society, with a deep appreciation of human rights and social justice. It is desirable to expose UP student leaders to internal as well as external (national and international) training and development opportunities if they have to emerge as well-rounded graduates with the relevant graduate attributes.
The Department of Student Affairs (DSA) is responsible for providing leadership and personal development and training opportunities to students who participate in various student structures at UP. As part of the co-curricular vision, the department draws in partnerships internally and externally and organises the offerings in such a way that they serve students well on their journeys to personal growth and enriched ‘graduates’.
The UP FES Democracy School for Young Leaders is made possible through a partnership with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). FES is the oldest political foundation and an independent and nonprofit organization in Germany, with headquarters in Berlin and Bonn. The Foundation shares a long history with South Africa and has supported dialogue, consultation and capacity building to assist with transformation before and after 1994.
2. Why was it introduced?
The programme is aimed at engaging student leaders on issues of human rights, social justice, civic participation and responsibility through various critical lenses. The programme is in its fourth year running at UP. It attracts more than 100 student leaders per year. From the evaluation that student leaders completed, they appreciated the quality of content they received, the manner in which various presenters engaged them as an audience and the quality of discussions and conversations that took place. Student leaders receive certificates of attendance for their participation in the programme and this is part of building their CVs.
The programme is designed to empower young leaders to be change agents and to continue with the vision of the youth of 1976 in fighting and overcoming the inequality that persists in society, and that undermines the democracy in the country.
3. Who does the programme target?
The programme is open to all UP students who are in leadership positions, or those who aspire to occupy such positions.
4. What would happen if the DSA did not design and implement the programme?
Young leaders would not be afforded the opportunity to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to be activists that can bring the much-needed change.
5. Why did the DSA get involved (with the programme)?
The programme also supports those aspiring to be in the SRC, this is where the support starts, and the training and development continue when they are in office.
6. What advice would you give to young leaders?
Young leaders at university should always take advantage of all learning sites and resources available to them for their own development and growth; they should seize opportunities to learn in and out of the classroom.