Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Education, the Way up and out

We have been staying in a suburb of Johannesburg called Melville. Apparently at one time, this was an uppercrust white area, "up on the hill," but now is a bohemian gathering place for students from the nearby main campus of the University of Johannesburg. Used book stores abound along with plenty of wine bars. :-)

The interesting thing is that security is so very tight. One doesn't feel afraid or exposed walking around the area yet the houses are like armed fortresses. One can barely see or appreciate the beauty behind the walls. What this tells us, of course, is that the ever widening gap between the haves and have nots is alive and well. How to change this? Education is the answer. And so, we made our way to the university to walk the campus and talk with students and professors alike.

Naturally our first stop was the library where we announced ourselves at the reference desk and had a chat with Tyson, a master degreed librarian who did a search for Don who's looking for some books on pre-colonial Africa. Up to the sixth floor we went dodging students every step of the way. There was such a vibrant atmosphere there, every table and computer being used, but the books were is such sad condition, ancient, falling apart and falling over from use. We thought immediately of Better World Books and wished that we could designate some of our Florida discards to this school.

Grad students in the history department - a rainbow nation. These folks will stay in school as the job prospects are less than rosy, as in the states. They tutor and work on advanced degrees. They tell us that there is very little written about pre-colonial Africa as the students don't see the "relevance" to their current lives. We tell them that if they don't learn from the past they're bound to repeat it. I suddenly feel very old.

1 comment:

Linda said...

This posting made me think of the "Occupy Wall Street" protests that are finally getting extensive coverage in the states...and the protests aren't just limited to NYC. Did you hear that 700 protestors blocking the Brooklyn Bridge were arrested? Maybe the revolution is finally coming home. I know you won't want to miss it.