The months of September and October were very busy months for the Development Economics Honours class. The lecturer (Prof Derick Blaauw) initiated a class project on day labouring in the informal economy in Potchefstroom. The project forms part of a bigger inter-disciplinary project with the lecturers from Anthropology. All ethical clearances were obtained as required by research protocol.
The aim of the project was to answer questions such as, who are the day labourers, and what are their employment histories in terms of formal sector jobs and experience? The class went through all the steps of survey research of this nature. Time was spent on recognizance to determine the places where the day labourers congregate to find temporary employment for a day or more. Records were kept and in the meantime a survey instrument was developed with everyone’s inputs. Prof Blaauw combined the questions and a questionnaire was compiled. The lecturer and students then embarked on the field work. The experience brought the students closer to the reality of being unemployed and then it was no longer merely a statistic in book or on a web site. The endeavors of real people at the coal face of an economy that cannot absorb them provided a reality check and a connection to the real world not possible to achieve by only staying in the comfort of an air conditioned classroom.
The data has now been captured and the 75 respondents’ data will be used for analysis by the students. We will report in the findings in due course. This will be shared with relevant parties and the students expressed the need for this to be the start of long term project with tangible results and the buy in of relevant role-players such as the municipality to improve the lives of these men on the side of the road. The lecturer agrees!