Trade union Solidarity has announced plans to roll out a R4.5 billion ‘network of work’ project, which will build alternative educational and work opportunities.
The project, called the Solidarity NetWork, will include a comprehensive alternative school system, an occupational training college, a university, financial aid for education, a youth movement, a network of occupational guilds, mentorships, job placement, protection in the workplace, and continued education, the group said.
The aim of the network is to accompany its members throughout their whole career path, said Dr Dirk Hermann, chief operations officer of Solidarity.
“The Solidarity NetWork is a major leap into the future. Although emigration has become a focal point of discussion again, most of the people remain here. It does not help to become despondent,” he said.
“We have one alternative and that it is to use what we have and build with it. We must take the bull by the horns and create the conditions to stay here freely, safely and prosperously. The very reason why we will be successful is because there is no other alternative,” Hermann said.
The Solidarity COO said that the initiatives will be financed by different sources, but one of the largest new initiatives is a new property investment company, Kanton, which will facilitate a partnership between capital and culture.
Investors will be recruited to invest in building the future with a healthy return. The community can, for example, invest in the construction of the Akademia campus and receive a financial and cultural return, he said.
Education and training
Hermann said that the Solidarity NetWork will depend strongly on education and training.
“The largest projects we will launch is the development of Akademia to a fully-fledged university with a campus, sports facilities, residences, and an active student life,” he said.
Solidarity’s occupational training college, Sol-Tech, will also receive a new modern campus with residences and sports facilities.
“Another new initiative of the Solidarity NetWork is the development of a comprehensive alternative Afrikaans school system by the Centre for School Support which will not only support public schools but will also establish a new school network.
“A comprehensive Afrikaans world-class private educational pipeline will be offered.”
Planning for the future
Hermann said that this investment is a ‘strong political point of view’ with the message that ‘we shall stay here and plan for the next generation’.
“The Solidarity Research Institute recently published a report which states that the birth rate of especially Afrikaner families have risen again.
“Therefore, we must plan and build for the following generation who are now building sand castles at preschool institutions,” said Hermann.
The group has been highly critical of employment and youth initiatives launched by the South African government, such as the Yes4Youth employment scheme, which Solidarity said was discriminatory because it excluded whites from taking part.
“The fight against the government’s obsession about race will be intensified and more court cases and further complaints to the United Nations can be expected. A new development is that a network of occupational guilds will be founded. These guilds will support the youth to enter the workplace and will start a mentorship programme.
“The guilds will act in the interest of the profession and will facilitate continued education through Solidarity’s new company S-leer.”