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Johannesburg’s two main universities provide residence halls for less than 15 000 of their 63 000 students. Many students are therefore forced to turn to overcrowded and illegal communes run by unscrupulous slumlords. Alternatively they sub-rent in dilapidated buildings in inner-city neighbourhoods, notorious for vice and crime. Many of these students are the first in the family to attend university, yet their chances for success are bleak, given South Africa’s high drop out rate of over 50% in the first year, and the fact that only 15% of students finish their degrees in the allotted time.
Develop urban ‘student village’ communities that offer students safe, secure and affordable housing as well as a supportive group of peers and mentors. Students will be expected to develop or take part in a social venture during the course of their studies that contributes to the rejuvenation of the local community. Not only will this provide them with tangible skills and work experience it will also contribute to developing a culture of community involvement, entrepreneurship and social activism.
Contract with private developers who will revamp dilapidated buildings in the city-centre. A selection process will be followed to identify a group of ambitious, committed students to live in these prestigious student villages. Students will commit to participating in an entrepreneurship program that will equip them with skills to develop projects that will make a meaningful contribution to the local community. Students will be expected to take part in regular workshops, and commit to a designated number of hours working on their social projects. These commitments will however give priority to their studies, which will remain the students’ primary focus.