Wise words inspire

2017-02-08 06:03
Prof. Yunus Ballim, vice-chancellor of the Sol Plaatje University (SPU), motivating the first-year students of 2017.  Photo: Boipelo Mere

Prof. Yunus Ballim, vice-chancellor of the Sol Plaatje University (SPU), motivating the first-year students of 2017. Photo: Boipelo Mere

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The Sol Plaatje University (SPU) has reaffirmed its vow to bend over backwards to find financial solutions for the most deserving students.

Those from poor households who cannot find alternative funding, but who pass all their modules, will receive a scholarship from the university.

Prof. Yunus Ballim, vice-chancellor of the SPU, announced this while speaking at the welcoming ceremony for the first-year students on Saturday (04/02).

“For those of you who come from homes that can pay fees, pay, don’t try to duck away. If the choice is between a family holiday and paying fees, pay the fees first – you will go to a holiday in Prieska, don’t worry,” the professor joked.

“But for those who can afford to pay, please do so, because we desperately need your money.

“Don’t do it because it is a benefit to you, but do it because you are supporting those who cannot. When you pay fees, you make a contribution to the country.”

Ballim said to the first-year students that the journey of a university student had to be seen as the first day of a new path they were walking on.

He described a university as a community that was supportive and unquestionably committed to the world of ideas.

Ballim stated that the SPU wanted to be recognised as a place that stood for values, just like any other university.

He said the students had come to live and learn in a community that was supportive and unquestionably committed to the world of ideas and to developing young minds.

Taking the audience through the long, difficult journey of the establishment of the SPU, Ballim made a few remarks on how it had been born under stormy circumstances, with the general view that a university in the Northern Cape was a bad idea.

A report that had been commissioned by the government stated that all the province had needed was a larger FET college.

Ballim highlighted how respected academics and intellectuals had participated in public debates through the media about why a university in the Northern Cape would be a bad idea.

Some of the arguments had been based on the small population of the province and the poor pass rate for Mathematics in the Northern Cape.

Ballim opposed these statements by sharing his own experience of growing up in multicultural communities, where it was believed that Kimberley was the best place to send a child if you wanted them to receive a good education, as it was referred to as the city of learning.

People used to say that: “When you want good education for your children, send them to Kimberley”.

He added that his generation of students from other provinces had shared the belief: “Look for a student that comes from Kimberley, they will help you pass”.

He added that all the great prophets of the world came from dry areas, which was why many good leaders came to Kimberley to get a good education, even though they were living under difficult circumstances.

According to Ballim, there was still nobody who could write accurately about the pain and sweat that had been put into the building of the SPU.

He pointed out that historians would continue to celebrate politicians for committing to the idea despite the pain, late nights and hard work required to produce it.

Ballim highlighted a few exciting academic achievements of the SPU, including the fact that it was the first university to offer a degree in Data Science, a qualification that is taken very seriously.

“This is the only university in South Africa that has produced average course pass rates better than 90%. That is a remarkable pass rate, all because we expect more of them (the students) and believe they can do more.”

He applauded the students for not apologising for their townshipness, their poorness or their blackness and rather standing shoulder-to-shoulder intellectually with the finest minds in the world, “because you got your first degree at the Sol Plaatje University.”

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