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Opening Access to Knowledge in Southern African Universities

“The Southern African Regional Universities Association last year published an important report titled Opening Access to Knowledge in Southen African Universities. This report identified key constraints in access to knowledge in universities in the SADC Region and builds on the findings from two earlier studies of  SARUA, A Status Review of ICT in Universities in the SADC Region (2006), and Science and Technology: A Baseline Study on Science and Technology and Higher Education in the SADC Region (2007).

The authors show that the presence of research from Africa in leading international peer-reviewed journals is diminishing, and also highlights the obstacles that prevent the majority of African research from ever receiving an adequate profile or readership within African research communities, and internationally. Reasons for the restictions on access to knowledge in Africa, and particularly in the Southern African Region are shown to revolve around restrictive copyright practices and regulations, and a lack of access to Internet-based technologies, out-dated paradigms for knowledge collection and dissimination, and the lack of creative and effective government supported enabling environments within higher education to match the vision of African leaders for knowledge and innovation in Africa in the 21st Century.” (From the foreword to the Report by Piyushi Kotecha)

To read the report Click Here!

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Education findings ‘devastating’

The findings by a team tasked to investigate the state of education in South Africa have been described by the opposition Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal as “nothing less than devastating”.

The team had found underlying dysfunctionality at rural and township schools, and teachers were spending less time in the classroom and more time on administration. The culture of teaching and learning had disappeared in most rural and township schools.

A culture of learning could only be restored if schools were given greater autonomy in hiring and firing staff, in disciplining pupils and in adapting the curriculum to local needs.

To read the report, click here

“Literacy, maths shocker in SA”

“Most primary school pupils in South Africa are failing tests for basic language and mathematics skills. ‘Poor national averages for language and mathematics in grades three and six show that most learners do not acquire the skills and understanding that give substance to the right to education’,  said the Children’s Institute (Cape Town) in a statement.”

Click here to read more as reported by News24

Click here for the Children’s Institute’s Report:  SA Child Gauge  2008/2009

Resistance against transformation at universities will not be tolerated anymore says Minister Blade Nzimande

The government is not going to tolerate resistance against transformation at universities anymore, Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande said on Wednesday 10 June 2009. 

He referred to The Report of the Ministerial Committee on Transformation and Social Cohesion and the Elimination of Discrimination in Public Higher Education Institutions, and said he had considered and accepted the report and its major findings, and found it deeply disturbing.  “While the report commends institutions for initiatives on change, the report unfortunately states that discrimination, in particular with regard to racism and sexism, is still pervasive in our institutions”, Dr Nzimande said.

Admitting that there is no doubt that significant policy development has indeed occurred towards transformation, the next important step will be to make those policies work.

Nzimande said further that he expects co-operation from Higher Education South Africa (HESA) and he will soon be meeting with them to consider a number of issues. These included developing a transformation compact between institutions and the department. He wants them to consider that vice-chancellors be held responsible for transformation and that this be included in their performance management contracts. The extend to which the curriculum has been transformed to play a role in the socialisation of students with regards to values in the Constitution and broader participation in society, should also be considered

He singled out the The University of the Free State as the institution where racism was the worst, and expressed hope that the University of Stellenbosch will decide, without intervention, to stop using Afrikaans to exclude some students.

Nzimande also announced that the government plans to form a new monitoring- and oversight body to complement the work of the Council on Higher Education (CHE), to keep an eye on transformation issues at universities in South Africa. This oversight body will be based in the Higher Education and Training Department, and details regarding its composition, structure, and brief will be released in the near future. He emphasized that the new body will not be involved in witch-hunts, but that universities will have to be held accountable. The allocation of financial assistance could be used for example, to ensure that universities use these funds for “pressing issues”.

Nzimande stressed that universities should have academic freedom and autonomy, but this should not be an impediment on the way to transformation.

To read more on this go to the article on Politicsweb by Clicking Here!

To read the Afrikaans article by Pieter du Toit on this in Beeld Newspaper Click Here!

“Zuma reads teachers the riot act”

In his maiden State of the Nation address in Parliament today (3 June 2009), Pres. Zuma stated: ‘Education will be a key priority for the next five years’.

To read the summary on News24, click here

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