Fellow Since 1993
The Western Cape Worker`s College
This profile was prepared when Pregaluxmi Govender was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1993.
The New Idea
We are prisoners of our own history. So starts the briefing on the Western Cape Workers College. The year-old Workers College has heralded a process of worker empowerment that seeks to consolidate and build working class leadership in the union movement. Unlike existing worker education programs in South Africa and internationally, which typically focus on basic shop-steward training, the Workers College places a strong emphasis on personal as well as organizational and political development. The college provides training in areas such as labor law and collective bargaining, the political economy, international trade union theory and practice, as well as personal assertiveness and stress management. In its own words, the college will "provide workers with the necessary tools to think through issues independently and creatively, to plan and to initiate effective action without dependence, to articulate their thoughts and experiences for themselves, to have no fear of authority (whether it be in the form of the state, capital, or of their own worker comrades), to be un-intimidated by the form or the content of meetings (whether they are large congresses or small commissions on complex issues such as the economy), or of the language used or the confidence of others." The Workers College has and will continue to develop educational practices that sustain participatory and critical learning processes. To this end, the Workers College aims to develop in its students the personal, political, and practical skills necessary to work collectively, to build democratic organizations and to empower others, and to initiate and support changes at existing education institutions to make worker education more accessible.