On 22 August 2016 Derick Blaauw & Anmar Pretorius met with Ms Crystal Beukes and colleagues from Men on the side of the road (MSR) in Windhoek, Namibia as part of an ongoing NRF-funded research project among informally employed day labourers in South Africa. Namibia has an unemployment rate of around 36%. MSR is an initiative to combat this state of affairs and was established in 2007 by the Dutch Reformed Church Eros. It is a registered welfare and non-profit organisation in Windhoek that aims to improve the skills of Namibian men as well as to prepare them for the job market. Unemployed men are invited to register on MSR’s database. Opportunities exist to take part in the training and placement program for its members. Opportunities include training in for example career guidance, English literacy, money management and entrepreneurship. Ultimately the aim is for members to increase the possibility of getting a permanent job placement. MSR has approximately 1 000 unemployed men on its database. Members get Identity cards listing the skills they have. If a member of the public needs any unskilled or semi-skilled workers they can contact MSR who then aims to put them in touch with suitable workers
The program is supported by the private sector and MSR liaise with the Ministry of Labour and the National Training Authority in Namibia. Derick and Anmar was invited back to Windhoek to continue the discussions and the forging of ties and sharing of ideas. For further information follow MSR Namibia’s Facebook Page.
PhD candidate Sandra Makumbirofa spent the best part of July in Italy conducting surveys for her research project. Her focus is on Tourism Economics and her thesis forms part of the Green Bubbles project. Here is her report from the Mediterranean:
Sandra in Italy!
In my warm clothes, exhausted from the 10 hour flight from O.R Tambo airport Johannesburg, with two stop overs in Frankfurt then Munich, I finally arrived in Genoa, Italy to make my research debut in Europe. It was hot and humid as summer had just started. The streets were filled with people chattering in a language that sounded so passionate and captivating. Over the weeks I witnessed Italians speak with so much enthusiasm and hand gestures. It was always so fascinating to listen and watch them converse.
Overwhelmed with expectations and wonder, this is my first year PhD and I had the opportunity of doing a study based on fieldwork in Italy and therein, was embarking on my first data collection.
I was sampling Portofino Marine Protected Area (MPA), which involved engaging with dive operators in Rapallo and Santa Margherita. Portofino is a coastal resort town in the northwesterly province of Liguria. It is famous for its magnificent harbor and a favoured destination for the affluent and famous. My research is part of an EU funded project for sustainable diving called Green Bubbles RISE in collaboration with eight other entities from Italy, the Netherlands, Malta, Turkey and the United States. The sample population were scuba divers who were asked to fill out a questionnaire. As most natives do not speak English, the helpful dive operators assisted in ensuring we successfully obtained sufficient questionnaires.
Early August typically sees cold temperatures in Potch and the annual Winter School for Master’s students in the School of Economics.
This year things were heated up with a focus on the context of the students’ research and a number of speakers who came to paint with that broad brush. Prof Saayman gave an overview of the history of economic thought (you have to know if your approach is new or neo-classical). Ed Kerby of LEAP at Stellenbosch spoke about economic history research and seven major themes in the field: Micro analysis, Living standards, Economic growth, Institutions, Monetary economics, Culture and Development Economics. Prof Raymond Parsons spoke about South Africa’s policies and political economy (particularly relevant now that the ANC’s NEC has called for a re-planning of the NDP). And finally Prof Andre Heymans gave an overview of research specifically in the Finance field.
Do your Master’s degree – get a black belt in Economics!
Michelle Groenewald reports from the LSE Winter School at UCT.
Having attended the London School of Economics Winter School hosted at the University of Cape Town this winter holiday, we (Michelle Groenewald and Caro Janse Van Rensburg) came to a couple of realisations about the world of Economics. This is a two week program where academic experts from LSE share their perspectives in fields ranging from economic challenges in Africa all the way to global poverty alleviation. Having recently returned from this enchanting experience we have a couple of insights to share.
- People view the world very differently. Seeing as there were students from 27 different nations, a programme such as this provides ones with a unique opportunity to better understand a diverse range of people’s outlook on Economics. Seeing as the course we took specifically looked at Poverty and Development it was fascinating to note that poverty has a myriad of shifting faces. Whilst different countries struggle with different intensities and forms of poverty, it was heartening to see people from all walks of life, taking such a keen interest in uplifting the most vulnerable.
- Heterodox economics is a thing. Whilst we are privileged at this university to have lecturers that teach more than that ‘the market will clear’, many students go their whole undergraduate lives knowing only about neoclassical economics. The lecturers at LSE were committed to outlining concepts within the mainstream framework, but more than anything they pledged themselves to emphasizing how many different schools of thought there were on a single topic. And so yes, one exam question did read: “To what extent have autocracies been better than democracies at alleviating poverty.”
- A reading a day keeps the ignorance at bay. All throughout the course there are numerous prescribed readings for each day. During the programme, the wide and varied research from so many academics encourages one to read widely and to challenge your own deeply held convictions. Interesting to note too, is that much emphasis is placed on not just theoretical concepts, but rather on grounding these ideas in the real world and analysing specific, cases of where these events have actually occurred.