August 28, 2013
Today I leave Pretoria and South Africa. I have been challenged and motivated and pushed to my limits here. I need a vacation and that is not going to happen.
Yesterday numerous last minute, and just plain necessary, errands were “run”. The kind that can’t be done before the last minute. I did what I could packing last night and have finished it this morning. My luggage is definitely overweight. Theoretically I should have waited until I arrive in Addis Ababa today and for the next week there to buy food to take back into South Sudan with me. The food prices here in South Africa are substantially less than what the prices are in South Sudan and I find myself purchasing, purchasing, purchasing. There is also the truth that sometimes things are out of stock in Addis Ababa and I didn’t want to risk running into that. The question I always have is: are the overweight charges that I am going to have to pay at the airport less than paying more for the food? BUT the food is often not even available in Malakal anyhow.
I’ve taken to praying that God will just help me at the airport, whatever may happen.
I learned some interesting things yesterday. A new friend helped me getting printed material from the guest house to UNISA. The boxes will go by courier to Juba and in Juba to the Mission Aviation Fellowship where they will then be flown to Malakal. I am very grateful for this because the courier service from Pretoria is free to students. I would not have been able to take the materials with me otherwise.
It was pointed out to me that UNISA makes a university education somewhat affordable to many, many African students on the African continent. This is because there are not residential campuses, and there are no classes in a classroom. This means that the infrastructure of UNISA is designed in a cost-saving way and that savings is then passed on to the students.
I had inquired as to why Stellenbosch, another well-known South African college/university is so much more expensive than UNISA. I figured it was probably a private institution. It is not. It is because it is residential and there are actual classes held on the campus.
The connection I made was that I as an American cannot afford an American education. The African students that study through UNISA cannot afford an African education and even though UNISA is still costly by African standards, it is more affordable than other universities and colleges on the continent. Both Stellenbosch and UNISA are public universities.
For me UNISA is a more affordable way to do work at a doctoral level. I simply could not afford to do this work in the United States. For the African students it makes higher study possible. And we meet at UNISA because the tuition is less expensive than other institutions of study. I can’t find the notes at the moment that I made about this yesterday so I hope that what I writing makes sense and has clarity. It did make sense to me yesterday!
I think that it is not a good thing that education is beyond the financial ability of so many people. Not everyone loves to study and that is fine. For those of us for whom reading (for instance) is like lifeblood, how can learning in our own indigenous environments be priced out of our reach? As with medicine. I think this is a critical issue that needs to be looked at. We are entering a global community that needs people with particular skills. How can people acquire those skills if there is not an affordable way to do so?