Taddy Blecher

Ashoka Fellow
Johannesburg, South Africa
Fellow Since 2012


This profile was prepared when Taddy Blecher was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
Taddy created a free university model based on a “learn and earn” methodology, whereby, students help to manage and maintain the university while completing their studies. They also teach young people in their home villages during their holidays. Once they have graduated and secured employment, they pay for the university costs of another student who will follow in their footsteps.

Taddy co-founded South Africa’s first free university, CIDA City Campus, in 2000. CIDA offers its students a top-quality four-year business administration degree that incorporates compulsory community service hours into its programs. To maintain a low-cost and sustainable model, Taddy created the CIDA Empowerment Fund, by tapping into a local and international pool of donors. This US$19 million education fund is 100 percent reinvested in the advancement and expansion of the model. Despite its success, it became imperative for Taddy to progress from the CIDA higher education model to one that placed greater emphasis on students taking active responsibility in unlocking their full potential. Taddy, therefore, created the Maharishi Institute, which adds consciousness-based education to his “learn and earn” methodology, enabling students to focus on their wholistic development, in addition to their professional training.

With this model, over 5,500 graduates have gone on to claim promising jobs in the field of business. Besides CIDA City Campus and Maharishi Institute, Taddy has helped to found at least six other free educational institutions in South Africa. More than 600,000 young South Africans have been educated in general business courses and special life-skills classes through these schools. Taddy’s academic focus now extends beyond business training: he has opened a university in a nature reserve to apply the “learn and earn” methodology to the natural sciences field. Taddy plans to spread the model throughout Africa and globally, and is currently working with Rwanda, and South America.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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