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When campuses across the country erupted with protests in 2015, it shook South Africa to its core.

Thousands of young people took to the streets to protest for free, decolonised tertiary education.

Students were assaulted and locked up; libraries, books and art were torched; statues fell and vice-chancellors were attacked.

While much of the media coverage focused on the unfolding events, the #FeesMustFall movement demanded from those concerned with the well-being of our country a solutions-focused discussion about the future and what we want to become.

It is in this context that News24, in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, launched Project Rise.

We asked academics, students, politicians, community leaders and ordinary South Africans what they thought the solutions were. We looked for answers to some of the difficult questions we face as a country: How do we fix our basic education system? What will rise after fees have fallen? Is free higher education a possibility and at what cost? What do colonial literature and syllabuses mean and should they be changed?

While we remain committed to finding solutions around education, this year we shift gears to focus on the broader issues of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Through research, workshops and public dialogue with a diverse range of stakeholders (from academia, government, civil society, churches, business and unions) the Mandela Initiative has over the past five years investigated key strategies to overcome South Africa’s development challenges.

The university-led national endeavour, in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, was established with the encouragement of then minister Trevor Manuel – while he was chairperson of the National Planning Commission – in recognition of the analytical capabilities of the country’s universities to help with the formulation of effective strategies to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality.

In the coming weeks and months Project Rise will be hosting the voices of those participating in these discussions along the five major themes to frame the initiative’s work: social cohesion, health, education, labour and rural and urban renewal.

If you have an idea, a dream or a solution for the future, write for us. No views are too radical – as long as they answer the question: what must rise?

We look forward to the upcoming months as we continue to challenge, contest, engage and persuade one another as the rich intellectual, dialogical and creative of traditions of South Africa become a cornerstone of our collective project.

  • For correspondence and contributions contact Alet Janse van Rensburg at aletjvr@24.com.