I do not think it’s controversial to believe that a more educated world is a better world.
Growing up, my father prioritized our education. He would give me a new book every week and expect a report back in the evenings when he got home from work. We’d sit there in the evenings and I’d tell him about what I’d read and ask questions about things I didn’t understand.
This habit of asking questions never left me. Fast forward to the second year of my undergrad at UCT, when I was coaching debating at a high school in Khayelitscha. It was one of the most defining experiences of my life. Too often students are told to sit down and keep quiet, when really we need to stand up and ask questions – question everything, especially the authority. Often in my classes we would just sit in a circle on the desks and talk about everything we thought we knew, and learn from each other. I think in South Africa especially; we have a lot to learn from each other.
Move forward again another year and protests started rocking UCT. It shocked me how so many people reacted dismissively to the students’ plight. Students who felt marginalised, victimised, were finally speaking out and instead of opening a conversation on this (and if there’s one place to open such a discussion it’s at a university), the university community split down the middle with the apparent sole intention of not seeing eye to eye. This is a complex issue, for sure, and I don’t mean to reduce it, but I also think that instead of dissecting it any further we need to be solution focused. We need to find common ground (of which there is ample), and move forward quickly.
Perhaps I am a cynic, but I don’t expect any great, and certainly not any quick solutions from government or institutions. It’s just a red tape festival in those arenas.
I think the solution must come from the students ourselves. We know what we want, what we need, and I certainly think we have the ability to create it ourselves.
This is why I started digsconnect a few months ago and have since dedicated every waking hour of my life to making it work. As simple as this might sound - I want a better world. I want the best world, the kindest world, the most educated and liberated world. This motivates me every day - the thrill of hope - and I’m also not one to sit back and wait for it to happen. A great man once said that education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. We have to open the doors of learning and make it easier for young South Africans to get an education - to do all we can to help students succeed.
One of the protests that happened at UCT, Shackville, highlighted the massive deficient of student accommodation and the utter lack of initiative here to produce any solutions. There is no system here - no structure or support for students that aren’t in res. So this is where digsconnect comes in. Digsconnect is a platform for off-campus student accommodation. At the moment our website only lists accommodation (mostly in Cape Town), but it’s in development right now and soon we will be launching the complete site which will help and guide students in finding secure places to stay close to UCT. We will then build it up, offering more services to students to make their university experience as safe, fun and productive as possible. Academic deadlines define a student’s life, and worrying about accommodation is a waste of a time. And it’s horrifying to think that safe and affordable accommodation is getting in the way of young South Africans getting an education.
Digsconnect is built by students.
It’s a student’s solution to student housing.