Nzimande, varsities to discuss racism report

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Johannesburg - Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande will be meeting with the chairpersons of councils of all the 23 universities in South Africa to discuss the Soudien report on racism at higher education institutions.

Nzimande said the recent racial incident at the University of Free State (UFS) in which white students were alleged to have forced black employees to drink urine, will form part of the discussions.

Former Education Minister Naledi Pandor appointed UCT Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Crain Soudien to investigate racial and other forms of discrimination at higher education institutions as well as to compile the report.

The report lifted the lid on several discrimination and racial tensions that still exist on some institutions of higher learning in South Africa. It recommended that tackling discrimination has to be a joint effort by all South Africans and not only the communities of the affected institutions.

Nzimande said discussions with UFS Vice Chancellor Professor Jonathan Jansen were continuing behind closed doors in a bid to get to the bottom of the challenges still facing that university.

"We have received a report from Professor Jansen in December but were felt that there are issues that were not answered that we would have liked them to be answered so we are continuing to discuss the matter," he said.

The UFS made headlines last year when a video, showing four white students forcing black employees to drink urine during a mock initiation affair, was released to the public.

Nzimande said a higher education summit to be held in April will be used to confront all the challenges of transformation in higher education as well as the role of universities in strengthening other sectors of the system.

The meeting will also seek to address issues of capacity and strengthening of good governance at these institutions.