#mytextbookscost campaign to surface rising cost of textbooks
29 Jan 2019 - 12:30
(Image: Pixabay CC0)
by Bianca Masuku
As the new academic year begins and students embark on their tertiary education journey at the University of Cape Town (UCT), the issue of the high cost of education in South Africa, including the escalating cost of textbooks and the challenges around this, begin to loom. This situation, in which thousands of families are faced with the dilemma of how to pay for critical instructional resources, surfaces a need to find other means of accessing (and producing) knowledge in the university setting that is both accessible and affordable for all.
With this context, the DOT4D project is setting out to create an awareness about and understanding of open textbooks and their potential for students to save money and for lecturers to create and openly share more contextually relevant materials. Through engaging student communities and using the #mytextbookscost hashtag in a social media conversation, DOT4D hopes to give voice to those at UCT and beyond who are frustrated with the rising cost of university textbooks in South Africa.
In asking the question “What do your textbooks cost?”, DOT4D is attempting to establish student-focused interaction that builds on the project’s transformational social justice and intersectionality approach. Acknowledging the cost of textbooks as a social justice issue, the question is framed as mechanism to surface both monetary and other costs that the high prices of many prescribed works at university incur. For some families, this may equate to a month’s wages; for some it could mean that another sibling has to go without something crucial in order to meet the demands of having a child in the higher education system.
The DOT4D research and implementation agenda aims to draw on the experiences of those within universities who are most in need of and most affected by issues of cost and the inability to access appropriate, local textbooks. In order to advance the social justice agenda, it is imperative that we include the voices of students in the broader conversation around open education, addressing what the movement means for South African students and what it should look like in the Global South context.
Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @dot4_d and use the hashtag #mytextbookscost to be part of the conversation.