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Government supports the UFS's transformation push
2009-09-04

The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande (pictured), has lauded the University of the Free State (UFS) for the progress it has made in increasing access for black students.

However, the minister also acknowledged that the UFS has failed in some respects to make important changes.

“The continued racial segregation of the hostels is something that is unacceptable 15 years after the introduction of a democratic order and has no doubt contributed to the kinds of attitudes that led to the notorious incident at the Reitz Hostel last year,” he said.

Dr Nzimande was delivering the JN Boshoff Commemorative Lecture on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein last night.

He said the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof Jonathan Jansen, has assured him that he will speed up this issue of residence integration and that he was confident he will do so successfully with the support of the overwhelming majority of the university community.

“He has my support in his new role and he will succeed in taking the university forward decisively along the path towards greater academic excellence and to serving its students and staff, the Free State province and South Africa as a whole, including its poorest and most disadvantaged citizens,” he said.

He said the UFS is an important national asset and “not an asset for some to the exclusion of others”.

“We will play our part as the Department of Higher Education and Training to support you in pursuing transformation, but we won’t keep quiet when we see that there are things that are developing that are actually undermining the realization of the UFS as a national asset,” he said.

Despite the fact that all our universities, he said, have policies in place to combat racism and discrimination, the Soudien Report shows that there is a disconnection between policy and actual discriminatory practice at universities.

“This is a serious problem because this disjuncture is not only because of the actions of maverick individuals on the ground, but includes the universities’ leadership, including even University Councils which are guilty of making policy in order to comply with legislation but expect that policy to be ignored in practice,” he said.

The Soudien Report is a Report of the Ministerial Committee on Transformation and Social Cohesion and the Elimination of Discrimination in Public Higher Education Institutions commissioned by the Department of Education last year.

Dr Nzimande also raised the fact that universities have neglected the Further Education and Training (FET) college sector in terms of research and teaching.

“There is not enough research by the universities on the FET college sector and yet this is the sector that we are prioritizing to absorb many of our young people who can’t make it to universities,” he said.

“We want to try and fight against this notion that in order to proceed in life university is the only place. We want to turn these FET colleges into colleges of choice and universities must help us, not only to research them but also to train FET colleges lecturers.”

He also announced that he will be calling a meeting of all the chairpersons of the Institutional Forums of the universities later this month as he feels that the role and status of these forums have been “eroded”.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt.stg@ufs.ac.za  
04 September 2009
 

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