Khanya College is an independent non-governmental organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and was established in 1986. The primary aim of Khanya College is to assist various constituencies within working class and poor communities to respond to the challenges posed by the forces of economic and political globalisation. Khanya College offers assistance through providing educational and training workshops, publications and research to organisations and individuals in these communities. Khanya College contributes to these challenges by emphasising solutions based on social solidarity, popular democracy and participation, organisation and mobilisation.
Constituencies the College services
The College is committed to serving organisations and individuals from working class and poor communities in South and Southern Africa. The College is politically non-sectarian in its relationships with the various organisations from the communities it serves. The College's main constituencies are the emerging social movements in town and country, trade unions, community-based organisations, student and youth organisations, churches and ecumenical organisations, cooperatives, and non-governmental organisations.
Khanya College’s Core Orientation
In order to realise its mission, and to serve its core constituencies, Khanya College engages in various kinds of activities. These include education and training workshops, seminars, research, publications, campaigns, organising, and the provision of support infrastructure for the social movements.
In the course of all these activities, the College pursues four core objectives:
- To build the theoretical, analytical and conceptual capacity of activists so as to enhance their understanding of the world in which they live and act;
- To enhance their organisational and mobilisation skills so as to improve their ability to organise for social change;
- To promote an ethos and practice of solidarity and social justice among activists; and
- To enhance the sensitivity of the activists to gender issues and gender equality in the movement, in their lives and in their work of social mobilisation.
The approach that has guided Khanya College's work is that social change requires three key ingredients:
- The movement needs to generate a body of ideas and values that define not only what the movement wants to achieve, but also guide and give meaning to its practice of struggle.;
- The movement must give rise to organisations and organisers that are able to transform individual grievance into collective struggle;
- The movement must preserve the memory of its struggles, values and traditions. This does not only ensure organisational continuity, but it also ensures the cohesion of its organisations and cadre around a set of values and ideas.
Challenges facing social justice movements and the positioning of the College
The current strategic analysis of the College is that the social justice movement in South Africa facing a number of key challenges. These challenges have in the view of the College become even more urgent in the aftermath of the Marikana massacre. The College has integrated the impact and meaning of the Marikana into its strategic analysis and positioning.
Some of the key challenges are:
- Deepening poverty and inequality;
- Corruption among the elites and the ruling class;
- A weak civil society, including social movements and NGOs;
- Linked to this weakness, a crisis of strategic vision and perspectives within civil society more broadly;
- Absence of collective platforms for collective action and engagements; and
- Closure of democratic spaces in South Africa in particular.
Given its character as an NGO servicing social movements, and given the various challenges the social justice movements face in South Africa today, Khanya College has had to define its strategic positioning within this terrain. This strategic positioning can be summed up as follows:
- Recognition of the primacy of popular social movements in the struggle for social justice;
- Recognition of the supportive and catalytic role that is played by organisations like Khanya College;
- That the building of popular movements is a long and complex social process;
- That therefore, in order to bear fruit, Khanya College’s interventions and other organisations doing similar work must be deepened and sustained over a long period.
Programme Areas for the work of the College
The work and activities of Khanya College are organised into programmes with different projects. All the programmes contribute, in a coordinated manner, to the realisation of the mission of the College. The work of the College is organised along three axes that overlap and reinforce each other. These are organising, education and publishing.
These three programmatic axes are underpinned by a focus on building a strong administrative infrastructure to support these programmatic interventions. Organising initiatives include working with farm workers, home-based care workers, teenagers and youth, and social movements.
Over the last few years the College has embarked on a number of ‘public domain’ interventions, where the College engages in consciousness raising among broad sections of the public. In this way, the College hopes to go beyond focusing on social justice activists and seeks to build a progressive ‘public domain’ that will reinforce the work done by social justice activists.
Publications produced by the College have the dual role of building activists, and building a progressive public domain politics in South Africa. Some of the key publications that the College produces are:
- Khanya College Journal;
- Karibu newsletter (a newsletter for social movements);
- Sugar Bulletin (a bulletin for Southern African Farm Workers Network);
- Ditokelo (a newsletter of community legal clinics);
- My Class (a newsletter of the Jozi Book Fair);
- Imbila Yesu ( a daily newsletter for the Winter School) and
- Documents of Social Movements.
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