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South Africa: Higher Education challenges of racism and access

Chika Sehoole, Professor at University of Pretoria, 22 July 2012, University World News

“Although admissions figures for black students and numbers of black staff have improved in the post-apartheid era, many black people still feel excluded within the university system and there are problems with a lack of available places to meet the demand for higher education. At the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, South Africa’s higher education sector made national and international news headlines.

At the end of 2011, the University of Pretoria was hit by allegations of apparent racism among its staff. A black engineering professor alleged systematic harassment and victimisation, on racial grounds.

At the beginning of the 2012 academic year, a black parent was killed in a stampede at the gates of the University of Johannesburg, where crowds of prospective students had gathered in the quest to gain admission into this university.

These two incidents – allegations of racism and the quest for access to higher education, especially by black people – are just two examples of the challenges that South Africa experiences in meeting some of the priority areas identified in 1994 by the post-apartheid government.”

To read the rest of Chika Sehoole’s article on University World News, Click Here!

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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!

Report on Racism at South African Higher Education Institutions released

The South African Ministerial Committee on Racism at Higher Education Institutions released its report on 14 May 2009. To read the Report Click Here! [pdf file, 1.64 MB]

Racism Committee Members announced by SA Minister of Education

The South African Minister of Education, Mrs. Naledi Pandor, announced yesterday the establishment of a Ministerial Committee on “Progress towards Transformation and Social Cohesion and the Elimination of Discrimination in Public Higher Education Institutions”. The primary purpose of the committee will be to investigate the nature and extent of discrimination in public higher education institutions, with a particular focus on racism. Prof Crain Soudien will chair the Ministerial Committee and its members are: Dr Olive Shisana, Professor Sipho Seepe, Ms. Gugu Nyanda, Mrs. Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele, Dr Charles Villa-Vicencio, Prof. Mokubung Nkomo, Ms Mohau Pheko, Mr Nkateko Nyoka and Dr Wynoma Michaels. The Committee will also be expected to report on the following: the nature and extent of other forms of discrimination based on, for example, gender, ethnicity and disability in public higher education, and in particular university residences; the steps institutions have taken to combat discrimination, including an assessment of good practice as well as the shortcomings of the existing interventions; advise the Minister of Education and the key constituencies in higher education on the policies, strategies and interventions needed to combat discrimination and to promote inclusive institutional cultures for staff and students; identify implications for other sectors of the education system. Prof Crain Soudien is professor of education at UCT, the author of a study of integration in South African schools, and chair of the ministerial committee into school governing bodies (2004). Dr Olive Shisana is head of the HSRC and was previously DG of Health. Professor Sipho Seepe is the academic director the Henley College of Management and is the Chair of the South African Institute of Race Relations. Ms Gugu Nyanda was head of the DG of Education’s office until 2005 and is now a consultant. Mrs Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele was the Deputy Secretary-General of the ANC and is a former Minister of Housing. Dr Charles Villa-Vicencio recently retired as the head of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, and was the Director of Research at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Mokubung Nkomo is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Pretoria , and the co-editor of an HSRC conference proceedings on school integration. Ms Mohau Pheko ( http://secure.financialmail.co.za/06/1020/fox/ffox.htm ) is the co-ordinator of the gender and trade network in Africa . Mr Nkateko Nyoka is MTN’s group executive of corporate services and a former CEO of the Independent Communications Authority of SA. Dr Wynoma Michaels is a scientist and specialist trainer.

Commission of Inquiry into racism at SA Universities

The minister of Education of South Africa, Naledi Pandor announced the formation of a commission to investigate racism at all 21 tertiary institutions in South Africa, during the opening of the Biological and Conservation Sciences Building at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban on Thursday 20 march 2008. To read more click here!