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Taddy Blecher: CEO, Cida City Campus
by Alec Hogg
MoneyWeb Translate This Article
20 July 2005
On 20 July 2005 MoneyWeb reported:
At CIDA university in South Africa, several hundred students from disadvantaged backgrounds practise Transcendental Meditation daily, and achieve a level of success in life no one would have believed possible. Moneyweb interviewed Taddy Blecher, chief executive of CIDA City Campus, and also one of the world economic forum's Global Leaders of Tomorrow, regarding a very large donation of R50 million received last week, and the success of the university in general.
It is a joy for Global Good News service to feature this news, which indicates the success of the life-supporting programmes Maharishi has designed to bring
fulfilment to the field of education.
Moneyweb was particularly interested in the role Transcendental Meditation plays at the school, noting that TM 'seemed to work quite well' in Mozambique under Joachim Chissana.
Blecher agrees, saying that during that time, Mozambique had 'about 15,000 soldiers in the army meditating' and they saw a 'kind of ending of the civil war and demobilization of soldiers and so on'. Blecher explains that 'At CIDA we offer students the opportunity to learn Transcendental Meditation, and we have a few hundred who do it every day, who choose to do it.' 'We're getting incredible results' Blecher goes on to say. CIDA now has about 250 graduates from its degree programmes and 1,650 from its vocational programmes. Between them, the 1,800 or so working graduates will earn approximately R83 million in this year alone. And as Blecher points out 'They're all kids that people would never have bet on.'
CIDA is virtually a free university, which offers a wide variety of vocational programmes in addition to degrees in business and technology. The student body is comprised entirely of those who are the first generation in their family to attend university. They come from over 1,000 different South African communities, with 70 per cent from rural areas.
Education at CIDA is in high demand. Each year, the university receives between 10,000 to 15,000 applications for only 400 to 500 available places.
The university receives funding from major corporations in South Africa and around the world including Investec, FNB, MTN, T-Systems, DaimlerChrysler, etc. Says Blecher, It's really through corporate support that we've been able to set this up, and also through innovation.' They recycle what society has thrown away - for instance every week they get over 2,000 copies of 2- or 3-week-old business magazines and use them for textbooks. Also they now have huge libraries filled largely with books one could call from the 'last generation'm mainly from the US and Britain.
This past Wednesday, CIDA received a donation of R50 million from a provider of e-learning and video-based learning in South Africa. Blecher says that the company works with Harvard, Harvard Business School Press, Thomson NETg, and various others. The donation will allow CIDA to take advantage of 5,000 e-learning courses in management, software skills, information technology, etc. These courses will be integrated into every year of the curriculum via CIDA'S 1,400 computers.
Blecher explains that CIDA, with costs per student at R350 - nearly 1,000 times less than those of Harvard in the US - is 'basically ... the lowest-cost university in the world'. He says it is 'really thrilling' to have access to Harvard quality courses in downtown Johannesburg.
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