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South Africa: Committee emphasises importance of gender issues in transformation at post-school Institutions

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training has said that the issue of gender must be included in any future investigation into the transformation of universities and the post-school education and training (PSET) sector.

The committee received an update briefing from the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on the findings of its investigation into transformation at public universities. The committee welcomed the report and vowed to hold both the department and the entire PSET sector accountable on transformation and equity.

The Chairperson of the portfolio committee, Ms Connie September, said Members of Parliament’s constitutional obligation to transform the sector will be carried out without fail in order to bring about equity at public institutions. “In gauging whether public universities have sufficiently transformed with regards to race, gender, language, culture, disability and sexual orientation, among other things, it should concern all that after 20 years of democracy, inequalities and patterns of systematic exclusion, marginalisation and subtle forms of discrimination are still the order of the day,” Ms September said.

“Of great concern is that access and success at public universities continues to be stratified along racial lines. The committee will include in its oversight a review of all orientation programmes to ensure inclusivity and a culture of human rights within the PSET sector.

“The committee emphasises the need for curriculums to be changed to bring about inclusivity and to consider broader societal issues. Transformation that does not take people with disabilities into consideration remains an incomplete dispensation.”

Ms September said the committee is concerned that the report highlights that the Department of Higher Education and Training has not adequately held institutions accountable where lack of transformation has been identified.

“We look forward to receive the response from the department and the Minister to the recommendations of the SAHRC and for us to travel the path together to ensure a just and equitable dispensation. We also note with great concern the plight of female students who continue to experience rape, violent crimes and an unsafe place of learning and teaching,” she said.

The committee will engage the Gender Commission to hear about their investigations on this matter, Ms September said.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.
Distribution channels: Education, Human Rights, World & Regional

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