12 July 2020
Universities are usually a good barometer of the conscience and progress of any nation.
And the racial inequalities that still persist in South Africa’s universities is a shame and a microcosm of the broader state of the country.
Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande this week released a report of the ministerial task team that looked into the “recruitment, retention, and progression of black academics in South African universities” and it laid bare that the country is still a white man’s land.
The task team found white and Indian males and females are still over-represented in university instructional and research staff, while African and coloured males and females remain under-represented.
The lofty ideals of the democratic government to transform South Africa will remain just a dream until we change our institutions of higher learning. To transform the system would mean to change the status quo. Academia has maintained a perception of being progressive. It promotes freedom of knowledge and fair access but maintains one of the oldest institutions of oppression.
It is not enough to just have black faces as vice-chancellors while the system itself has little tolerance for black talent. Black lives can only matter when black talent is given the space and opportunity to shape academia and the economy.