In our view

Using varsities to fuel growth - 20 Sept 2013 - Pretoria News

This opinion piece by Professor Cheryl De La Rey was published in the Pretoria News (late final) on 20 September 2013

WHILE the private and individual benefits of higher education are widely recognised, there has been debate about public benefits of university education. Empirical research shows that investment in higher education "pays off" in terms of economic growth, employment rates and improved quality of life.

University education brings benefits not only to the individual in the form of better employment prospects, higher income and positive life outcomes in general; it also confers significant benefits on the society as a whole.

This is true for both developed and developing countries, in the form of lower levels of corruption, improvements in the quality of public administration and health and well-being.

National lottery - keeping philanthropy alive in South Africa' - Cape Times, 2 Sept 2013

This opinion piece by FPA member James Taylor was published in the Cape Times on 2 September 2013

AS OUR fledgling democracy takes shape, critical decisions are being made that will define the role civil society plays in building a flourishing country The final wording of the Lotteries Amendment Bill, the subject of parliamentary public hearings this month, will reflect such choices.

In the larger tussle between the private and public sectors to influence and shape society the contribution of the "third sector" is easily overlooked and often misunderstood. Around every aspect of social and community life there are voluntary organisations of citizens coming together to pursue common needs and interests and counteract exclusion.

This voluntary association of citizens is the foundation of the third sector referred to here as civil society Civil society initiatives often start informally and over time gain momentum and formalise into local, national and even global organisations. They range from small interest groups coming together to meet a gamut of personal needs to broader shared community needs such as childcare, health issues, education, housing, and care for vulnerable groups. Civil society also pioneers new fields of thinking and activity as it has in the arts and sciences, in the liberation, human rights and environmental movements.

Vital action needed to raise rate of graduation' 13 August 2013 - Business Report

This opinion piece by Inyathelo Executive Director Shelagh Gastrow was published in the Business Report on Tuesday 13 August 2013.

WE ALL know that investment in higher education pays off. It not only benefits the individual in the form of improved job prospects and income, but it also has significant benefits for our society as a whole by contributing to higher economic growth and employment rates, lower levels of corruption, as well as improvements in the general well-being of the population.

Why then are our universities battling to secure the money and resources they need to survive and thrive? And why do only 13 percent of our youth have access to university while more than a third of students drop out in the first year and less than half graduate?

The uneven and shaky pathways to and through our universities, especially for the majority of students who are unprepared for university study, should be of concern to us all. It is in our collective interests to ensure that our higher education institutions remain at the cutting edge, produce world-class graduates and undertake the essential research needed to advance our society

'Are we heading for a state-run lottery? You can have your say' - Cape Times, 26 July 2013

This opinion piece by Inyathelo Executive Director Shelagh Gastrow was published in the Cape Times on Friday 26 July 2013.

We have been given until next Friday (2 August 2013) to submit written comments on the proposed amendments to the Lotteries Act. The very tight turn-around on the call for comments – just ten days – will do little to calm fears over the future funding of the more than 100 000 non-profits who between them deliver more than half of the welfare services government is obliged to provide.

I have numerous concerns over the proposed amendments but chief among them is the fact that the changes open the door for a state-run lottery rather than one run by an independent entity with an independent board. Although it is not clear what the ramifications of this would be, it is the potential thin end of the wedge which could eventually evolve into a fully-fledged income generating exercise for government, where billions of rands of funds will go into government coffers to be distributed only to welfare and service delivery organisations that are aligned with government’s national objectives. 

Proposals on non-profit groups pose serious threat to democracy - 24 Jan 2013 - Cape Times

Shelagh Gastrow

CIVIL society needs to act quickly if it wants to ensure its rights and role in our democracy are not curtailed by government. The "Policy Framework on Non-profit Organisations Law", released in June last year, proposes sweeping amendments to the Non-profit Organisations Act of 1997 which governs NPOs.

The proposed new law suggests the compulsory registration and regulation of NPOs by two new state bodies - the South African Non-profit Organisations Regulatory Authority (Sanpora) and the South African Non-profit Tribunal (Sanpotri) - which would allow government to examine the books, records and activities of non-profit organisations; issue sanctions and enforce punitive measures against organisations, including blacklisting those that have been involved in "unscrupulous practices".

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