On Friday, September 17, 2021, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Library hosted the webinar “The ‘new order’ – education and society” as part of the series, to discuss intergenerational learning which is believed to foster harmony among generations and has the potential to reduce feelings of anger, fear and distrust between generations.
Speaking at the webinar, Dr Nolitha Vukuza, UJ’s Senior Executive Director: University Relations, Student Affairs and UJ Sport, reflected on the idea of generations learning from each other.
“Can we learn from one another, is there anything that can be gleaned from older orders, as I did with previous orders? What is it that we need to relearn in order for us to be the best versions of ourselves? What can we renew, repair and rebuild if we need to?”
Webinar host and Clinical Psychologist Anele Siswana added that the point of the discussion was to reimagine and see the possibilities of current discourses of the now and what it means for the higher education system.
Dr Buyisiwe Sondezi, senior lecturer in the Department of Physics at UJ, spoke about the importance of inclusion across generations.
“Equal treatment should be the point of conversion that we should all capitalise on. Different generations have been fighting against exclusions from education and economic systems.”
She reflected on how the new generation used the same tactics as the 1976 youth by taking matters to the street as table negotiation rendered unfruitful.
Ms Tumisang Nkosi, Software Engineer and Director: Johannesburg Business School, spoke on the intergenerational disconnect.
“In South Africa, when we talk about intergenerational differences, we define it along the past – post democratic people and pre-democratic people. Distances have continued to drive the differences.”
According to a study, the generations between 57-75 year-olds and 25-39 year-olds were the most conflicted. She added that reskilling was essential to create employable people and this could only happen through the interchanging of skills through the different generations.
Masters candidate, Ms Lesego Mosweu also spoke on the topic of inclusion in relation to students acclimatising to new environments like university and older generations not understanding the challenges faced by the new generations.
“The young need to understand that the old may not be equipped enough to understand and it is not their fault. The young are afforded a better awakening due to democracy while the older generation is left behind. Education of history also plays a role in our awakening. This exclusion comes from the differences and the awareness of it, which is at the core of our student movements and the core of our frustrations,” she said.
Mx Inolofatseng Lekaba, a part time lecturer in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at UJ shared their views on the topic, adding that collective action (against inequality) could be used for purposes of social justice across generations, institutions of higher learning and civil society organisations.
The last speaker, Ms Michelle Khumalo, a central SRC Academic Quality Officer at UJ said UJ provided a variety of options to help students who needed financial assistance.