Breaking Poverty by Providing Access to Free Higher Education in South Africa
Taddy Blecher, an Ashoka fellow, founded the Maharishi Institute to try and revive a lost generation. Every day in South Africa, 4 million youths wake up with nothing to do and it pushes them on to the streets and into crime. Taddy dreamed of a way to unlocking the genius within these young people without invoking a financial burden on them by way of costly education. This was all made possible by the work of the Maharishi institute.
The Maharishi Institute is the first university to provide free full-time and part-time education to young people throughout South Africa, in turn preparing them for work.
The institute is grounded in an inside-out education which focuses on developing the student first as opposed to the rigid fact-learning traditional system. For the first year everything is completely free. Thereafter, students must work four hours a day in any number of jobs throughout the university for which they receive a stipend to cover their own living costs, thus creating the world’s first self-funding university. Each day begins with meditation or yoga to help distance the youth from their often-violent hometowns. This, combined with tangible skills in computing and business management and the confidence gained through exposure to consistent work, has had a great impact for the university. There are currently 500 students in full-time studies and they have been placed throughout 25 different employers. Blecher intends to reach a 1500 student population in the near future.
Taddy Blecher is a pioneer of youth employment and the free higher education movement in South Africa. He was elected as an Ashoka Fellow through the Future Forward: Innovations for Youth Employment Initiative in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation