Connie September, a passionate Philomath, received her doctoral degree in The Management of Technology and Innovation in Education, at the Da Vinci Institute, in Johannesburg, on Monday May 23, 2022.
The former Human Settlements Minister produced her thesis titled: Public funding of the college sector: a social-return-on-investment in higher education in South Africa.
Edward Kieswetter, President (chancellor) of Da Vinci Institute and Commissioner of SARS was the key note speaker and hosted the ceremony of the doctoral graduates.
Ms September said sessions of the course started in 2019 after registering in 2018. She chose the topic for her thesis “Public funding of the college sector: a social-return-on-investment in higher education in South Africa” because financial investment in education, especially in the public colleges, required the measurement of a social-return-on-investment in order to look at the social value increased funding from government can be realised.
“Public colleges are the key engines and institutions to produce the requisite skills the labour market requires. Thus any Rand and cent must be measured on the basis of a social value it produces to communities and the economy as a whole,” said Ms September.
Ms September’s passion for human rights stems way back when she was growing up in Grassy Park. “By 1980 I was not part of any political organisation but it changed soon when I joined LOGRA (Lotus River, Grassy Park, Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association) youth and civic, CAHAC (Cape Areas Housing Action Committee) with former finance minister Trevor Manuel and the formations of the Advice Office Forum. I joined CLOWU (Clothing Workers Union) to mobilise workers to join progressive unions.”
Ms September said: “After the famous Rex Strike that broke the back of conservative unions and ushered in dignity to women workers, the formation of GAWU (Garment and Allied Workers Union), then SACTWU (South African Clothing Textile Workers Union). I became the first woman to become a deputy President of Cosatu (Congress of South Africa Trade Unions).”
Ms September’s passion for education ran through her veins and she kept on studying.
“I was always interested to learn more to study further hence obtaining a pre-primary teachers diploma, economic degrees, post graduate economic policy degrees, Masters in applying technology management in townships and now PhD in Education, education became my life in the unions and in parliament.”
Ms September said it was a great achievement “to complete my PhD at the age of 61.”
She said she had served on the Magistrates Commission for 5 years and was responsible for ensuring that more women and especially young black women and men enter the bench in the lower courts. “Some of them are now serving in the higher courts. We were praised by the President for the changes we made.”
Ms September aimed to inspire people of all ages, as she echoed former president Nelson Mandela’s belief in education. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. One of his significant quotes: “The power of education extends beyond the development of skills we need for economic success. It can contribute to nation-building and reconciliation.” Ms September was extremely appreciative of the acknowledgement of her role in the Arts as in Ballet was conveyed by the CEO of Da Vinci ,Prof Klopper upon handing over the book of wisdom to herself at the ceremony.
Ms September said communities can do much more at any age. She said she will continue to study and she also encouraged others to keep on studying but to also take their acquired knowledge to teach. “I will keenly work to get the recommendations of my thesis implemented.”
Artscape would like to take the opportunity to congratulate Ms September on this wonderful achievement and to thank her for all the work she has done in improving education in our country and also her continuous support of the arts.