The South African institutions of higher learning have shifted from being ivory towers and became true centres of learning and are thus becoming more relevant to the society’s needs. Lately the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has taken a step that will soon make these post-matric schools directly responsible for economic and social development. DHET has mandated HEIs to introduce entrepreneurailship in their curriculum. This is music to the ears of MUT, as was confirmed by the MUT staff and students during the two-day session – 1-2 August 2017, when the University took part in the first Student Entrepreneurial Week (SEW), 1-7 August 2017, whose theme was: Entrepreneurialship as a career. The SEW is a DHET initiative which seeks to deal with the unemployment problem, and inculcate the idea of economic generation and independence on the part of the young South Africans. Among the 27% of South Africans that are unemployed are the graduates. The aim of the SEW is to raise awareness of entrepreneurialship as a career option, while imparting basic entrepreneurilaship skills to students from all disciplines.
To this end, “MUT accepts its responsibility to contribute to entrepreneurship development, which is one of the strategic objectives of MUT’s Strategic Plan. MUT has a two-fold approach: to develop our students as entrepreneurs; and to become an entrepreneurial University,” said Dr Johan van Koller, Acting Senior Director – Institutional Planning and Research.
Prof Alfred Msomi, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, applauded MUT for embracing the initiative, and suggested that regular meetings be held in which clear strategies would be formulated as to how entrepreneurialship would be fused into the academic programmes. Prof Msomi further suggested that MUT alumni like Dalisu Phelago should be invited to seminars to talk to students about how they could start their own businesses. Dalisu, a former MUT student, said students should choose carefully what they would want to do, so that they would enjoy it, like he enjoys his farming. Bright Hlongwane, a first year Public Administration student, on the second day, told the students and staff that he was going to open a Bright School of Entrepreneurialship so he could pass on what he learnt at Stanford University. Bright was at the ‘Farm’ from 8-30 July 2017 to learn more about entrepreneurialship. He said there would be a meeting in Durban early next year to kick-start the school.
Lisa Mlonzi, another former MUT student, told the students about the tough road towards business success. “Begin with an end goal in mind, and work your way backwards.” Lisa has a blood analysing business. It was not easy for her when she decided to venture into “this unusual business”. But her grounding prepared her. Lisa had worked in the similar business before.
Xoli Ngubane, Manager of the Technology Station in Chemicals, (TSC), asked students to channel their ideas and questions through her directorate. The TSC grooms SMMEs.