South Africa is at a crossroads.

Project Rise is our attempt to create a platform where we can talk about the future (Have your say here). Because we talk so much about teargas, violence and arrests that the focus has shifted away from the struggle for free, quality education.

#WhatMustRise was the question posed to us by Advocate Thuli Madonsela, the former public protector, at the annual Ahmed Kathrada Foundation lecture in October 2016.

News24’s Project Rise is a platform to host this debate.

Since early 2015 South Africa has been grappling with issues of free, decolonised tertiary education. Students have been assaulted and locked up; libraries, books and art have been torched; statues have fallen and vice chancellors have been physically attacked.

The outcome of our campus revolt will determine our future.

Much of the media’s focus on covering #FeesMustFall has been on the protests, the attacks and the teargas. That is our duty as journalists and we will continue to cover the day-to-day events on our campuses.

But the time has come for a different discourse to rise; a discussion that focuses solely on the future and what we want to become.

It is in this context that Project Rise was born.

If you have an idea, a dream or a solution for the future, write for us. No views are too radical – as long as they answer the question: what must rise?

South Africa is in urgent need of fresh answers to the following difficult question: How do we fix our basic education system? What will rise after fees have fallen? Is free higher education a possibility and at what cost? Does a degree guarantee success in life? What do colonial literature and syllabuses mean and should they be changed? How will technology disrupt education? And what does the university of the future look like?

Unemployment, inequality and poverty are our trio enemies. If we don’t solve these problems together, we will fall.

From the Nelson Mandela Foundation:

The student movement has shaken South Africa to its core and has opened a space for us to engage in the emotive, difficult and painful conversations that we have avoided for so long. It has also given us the opportunity to begin the process of engaging in another ‘grand dialogue’, the last of which we had at the dawn of democracy. These conversations allow us to ‘re-imagine’ South Africa and to dream of the South Africa we want to build. It allows us to be introspective of our humanity and culture, to engage with one another and to persuade others through the power of words. It is through our continuous engagement with one another that we can harness the knowledge that exists in our system. The voices we hear should not only be those occupying a high office or an elite university but should include the voices of as many people as possible. As Madiba once wrote in a letter from Robben Island, “The anchor of all my dreams is the collective wisdom of mankind as a whole.”

Like many South Africans, we believe that there is still much to fall. There is a need for deep transformation in many sectors but we also need to understand what must fill this vacuum.

There are many questions to be answered but there is also a collective wisdom that exists and therefore the Nelson Mandela Foundation has decided to partner with News24 on Project Rise. It is our belief that the project will allow for us to engage with many South Africans and for South Africans to begin to read the opinions of others and to move out of the ‘echo chambers’ that have defined discourses over the last decade. We, at times look at our differences and do not realise that what brings us together is stronger than what divides us. Le dithaba di kopana ka meriti as the Setswana saying goes. This speaks of the ways of knowing being a ‘meeting point’ and I hope this platform serves this purpose.

We look forward to the upcoming months as we begin to challenge, contest, engage and persuade one another as the rich intellectual, dialogical and creative of traditions of South Africa become a cornerstone of our collective project.


  • For correspondence and contributions contact Alet Janse van Rensburg at aletjvr@24.com.