Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr B.E. Nzimande, announcement of the Oversight Committee on the transformation of South African universities, Johannesburg
23 Jan 2013
I have great pleasure today in announcing the establishment of the Ministerial Oversight Committee on Transformation in the South African Public Universities. The background to this announcement dates back to the White Paper on Education which set the framework for the Transformation of Higher Education. The White Paper 3: A Framework for the Transformation of Higher Education (1997) seeks to guide programmes and processes aimed at transforming the post-apartheid education system. It requires that "all existing practices, institutions and values are viewed anew and re-thought in terms of their fitness for the new era".
In 2008, the then Minister of Education, Ms Naledi Pandor, appointed a Ministerial Committee on Transformation and Social Cohesion and Elimination of Discrimination in Public Higher Education. The Committee was headed by Prof Crain Soudien, and given the brief to "investigate discrimination in public higher education institutions, with a particular focus on racism, and to make appropriate recommendations to combat discrimination and promote social cohesion." The Committee had to report to the Minister on the following:
- An overview of the state of anti-discrimination in higher education;
- An indication of the most egregious forms of discrimination that are taking place within the system;
- The nature and extent of racism and racial discrimination in public higher education, and in particular university residence, and other forms of discrimination based on gender, ethnicity and disability;
- An insight into models of good, anti-discriminatory practices that were emerging within the system;
- An agenda for the areas of higher education most urgently in need of anti-discriminatory work, and steps that have to be taken by institutions to combat discrimination, including an assessment of good practice as well as short comings of existing interventions;
- An identification of the most critical areas for further investigation and research; and
- The Committee was to advise the Minister and the key constituencies in higher education on policies, strategies and interventions needed to combat discrimination and to promote institutional culture for staff and students, which are based on the values and principles enshrined in the Constitution.
The Committee's report (the 'Soudien Report') concluded that the state of transformation in higher education was painfully slow. In particular, racism and sexism were pervasive, while the pace of redress was equally painfully slow. It noted serious disjuncture between policy and real-life experiences of both students and staff, particularly in learning, teaching, curriculum, languages, residence-life and governance. Based on its conclusion, the Committee recommended as one of the key interventions, that "The Minister should consider establishing a permanent Oversight Committee to monitor the transformation of higher education."
This Committee I present to you today ladies and gentlemen of the Media, is therefore based on that recommendation.