Leader: Painful streamlining is not the solution for SA

June 7, 2002

It is eight years since South Africa's return to democracy and the beginning of the reconstruction process that promised so much to the country's oppressed majority. But the process of transformation in the country's universities has been slow. Although numbers of students have increased (and within that the proportion of African students), the participation rate for black students is still only 12 per cent, compared with 42 per cent for whites and 37 per cent for Asians.

Equally, the government's plan to reshape a higher education system developed along racial lines by the apartheid regime has been laboured and frequently flawed. Education minister Kader Asmal has tried to force the pace, but entrenched interests have set bear traps at every turn. His latest skilful footwork has broadly retained plans for a streamlined system. But a threat of quotas for universities that fail to meet specified targets for recruiting more African black students will antagonise universities striving to accelerate change but making slow progress because of a lack of black academics to effect the cultural change nearly everyone wants. A painful streamlining from 36 institutions to 21 will not deliver a new cadre of black academics needed to tackle myriad social and economic problems still facing the country. Whether it will actively get in the way is the critical question.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments