Pretoria – Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande has released a new racial policy framework, which aims to end racism and promote integration at tertiary institutions.
Race control: The policy will force tertiary institutions to screen and only accept students based on race, the colour of their skin and their culture. This will ensure that the racial mix of the student population reflects the racial and cultural demographics of South Africa.
The policy, which will be known as the Policy Framework for Social Inclusion in the Post-School Education and Training System, will serve as a guide for institutions to address issues such as race, class, disability, gender, HIV and Aids, age, demographics and citizenship, among others.
“The main intention of the policy is to ensure that educational institutions recognise and promote integration, a culture of human rights, unity in diversity as well as human dignity and thus eradicate all forms of discrimination,” Minister Nzimande told the media on Thursday.
Once approved, the policy will be introduced in all the country’s public higher education institutions, technical and vocational education and training colleges, sector education and training authorities and adult education and training centres.
The policy will see the implementation of anti-racism and citizenship curricular, as well as extra-curricular education programmes. This will see student leaders being trained on citizenship and values programmes, which will be mandatory.
The policy also aims to introduce culturally mixed student residents, which Minister Nzimande said must reflect the demographics of the country.
It has been reported that some institutions still implement policies that exclude students from specific racial groups. The Minister said these exclusionary practices cannot be allowed to continue as they have a negative impact.
Minister Nzimande said there is no room for ethnicity and racism in post schooling institutions.
“The struggle for transformation has a long way to go, hence we are calling for social mobilisation,” he said, adding that government alone cannot achieve this without commitment of individual South Africans and relevant civil society organisations.
The vision, according to Minister Nzimande, is to ensure that students leave institutions with well-developed social skills in order to be productive members of a democratic South Africa.
“The closing of physical, social and economic distances separating South Africans is essential in order to achieve social cohesion,” he said.
The Minister also called for better student-student interaction as well as lecture and student interaction.
Dealing with HIV
On HIV and Aids, the draft policy calls for institutions to create awareness by disseminating information through curricula, while ensuring that people living with HIV and Aids are not stigmatised.
It also aims to ensure that institutions are linked to accredited sites that offer support for persons living with HIV.
In addition, it advocates for wellness centres within the institutions, which will be adequately funded and employ fully qualified personnel. The department hopes to achieve this by working closely with the Department of Health.
The draft policy calls on institutions to develop clear regulations to handle all cases of gender based violence, including raising awareness about the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.
It recommends that staff members and security personnel receive training – which must form part of the institutional plans and programmes – on how to deal with handling such cases.
With regards to persons with disabilities, the policy makes recommendations for students with disabilities to be well looked after. The department will work with the Departments of Social Development, Basic Education and other relevant entities to achieve this.
It will also address issues such as accessible accommodation, transportation as well as curriculum adaptation and staff development in order to deal with people with disabilities.
Funding underprivileged students
According to the draft policy document, students from disadvantaged backgrounds will receive targeted funding from the National Skills Fund.
It will also ensure that quality higher education and training is available in all parts of the country, including rural and peri-urban areas, while addressing the issue of hunger on campuses.
The draft Social Inclusion Policy Framework will be published in the Government Gazette on Friday.
Minister Nzimande called on all South Africans to send public comments.
“This policy is based on lived experiences of South Africans and aims to cut across group identities in empowering citizens for a constructive role in the development of South Africa, in line with the National Development Plan.