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- Volume 24, Issue 2, 2010
South African Journal of Higher Education - Volume 24, Issue 2, 2010
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Volume 24, Issue 2, 2010
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 24, pp 221 –223 (2010)More Less
This set of articles is offered in an attempt to share with a wider reading public the kinds of issues that arose in the course of a review at the University of Cape Town (UCT) that was undertaken into its admissions policies. They encapsulate the major elements on the debate within the review and are presented here in an attempt to open up the discussion of how the higher education community in South Africa might seek to take forward the challenges that relate to the development of equitable admissions policies for the country.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 24, pp 224 –237 (2010)More Less
The purpose of this article is to attempt a surfacing of the assumptions and discourses surrounding the affirmative action debate in higher education in South Africa. The article draws attention to two dominant discourses - the first being that of the patriotic university, and the second being that of the global university. In terms of the first idea, the argument is made that the university should be a mirror of the society in which it operates and therefore, an instrument for realizing its most important policies and ideals. The second insists that the university as an institution arises out of an international commitment to knowledge production, and that this framework provides it with its legitimacy. The article argues that neither of these discourses is able to fully understand and engage with the complexities of affirmative action and its ancillary challenges of racism and racialisation. The first subsumes the university entirely within the dominant politics of the day, whatever they might be, while the second extrapolates the university from the society in which it finds itself.
Author H. BotsisSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 24, pp 238 –243 (2010)More Less
This is an initial and exploratory comment on the pilot phase of a study into adolescent female white identity and socio-sexual desire in post-apartheid South Africa. In the course of this pilot it became apparent that historical issues of race and racism are openly discussed in these girls' classrooms. Yet, despite these everyday interactions the sensitive current day politics of race, specifically related to Affirmative Action in Higher Education, are not spoken about in a personal way in public spaces such as the classroom. Findings from this phase in the study revealed an inability, and lack of opportunity, to openly discuss race politics that are pertinent to these learners' presents and futures. In this brief commentary I argue that the nonracial ideology, espoused by the post-apartheid government cannot become naturalized if these learners are unable to work through some of the contradictions of their present. One of these contradictions is the continued salience of race in their lives and futures as they enter the university, while having intimate social relations, which seem to belie this reality. I argue for an exploration of participatory mechanisms - ways for the youth to find a vocabulary of their own in articulating the challenge of race. Part of the struggle in establishing this vocabulary is what Nuttall (2001) has identified as a duplicity in white identity, which is in part a complicity in maintaining the hegemony of whiteness.
Author Z. ErasmusSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 24, pp 244 –257 (2010)More Less
South Africa's government requires information on apartheid race classification to implement and monitor racial redress. This has sparked resistance to race classification as a criterion for redress in higher education admissions. I argue that (1) jettisoning apartheid race categories now in favour of either class or 'merit' would set back the few gains made toward redress; (2) against common sense uses of 'race' and against the erasure of 'race' through class reductionism; and (3) for developing and testing new indicators for 'race' and class disadvantage with a view to eventually replacing apartheid race categories. I offer a critical-race-standpoint as an alternative conceptual orientation and method for transformative admissions committed to racial redress that is socially just. I conclude that admissions criteria should encompass the lived realities of inequality and be informed by a conception of humanism as critique. This requires resistance to ways of knowing orchestrated by apartheid's codes.
Author D. BenatarSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 24, pp 258 –267 (2010)More Less
South African universities and other institutions of higher education currently give preference to student applicants from designated 'races'. This paper argues that such a policy is morally indefensible. Although the imperative to redress injustice is endorsed, this, it is argued, does not entail that applicants may be favoured on the basis of their (purported) 'race'. Nor can the pursuit of diversity be used to defend racial preference. Next, it is argued that any policy on racial preference must have both a racial taxonomy and a method of assigning individuals to different taxonomic categories. It is argued that both competing methods of categorizing individuals - one subjective and the other objective - are unacceptable. Finally, the paper highlights a number of fallacious responses to criticisms of racial preference.
Source: South African Journal of Higher Education 24, pp 268 –297 (2010)More Less
The article outlines how UCT's commitment to redress and diversity has officially guided the university's approach to admissions planning. In 2009 the Senate requested the Vice Chancellor to conduct a review of the admissions policy particularly to determine whether race continued to be an adequate proxy for disadvantage. This article analyses data prepared by the Institutional Planning Department of the University to support the review process, reflecting changes in the demographic profiles of all students and first-time entering (FU) intakes between 1994 and 2009. The data provide a more nuanced picture of offers, rejections and enrolments by race and poverty quintile of the 2009 new undergraduate intake. The article then goes on to assess the effects of various policy instruments used to facilitate access to UCT, demonstrating that the Academic Development Programmes have been the most significant instruments of facilitating access. Drawing on the analysis of the data, the article concludes that there is no empirical basis for arguing that race should no longer be a factor in admissions, given that the proportion of black students at UCT is still far from approximating that of the South African population, and that the percentage of black students in 23 of 44 programmes is less than 24 (the Western Cape proportion of blacks).
Author E.M. BitzerSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 24, pp 298 –312 (2010)More Less
This paper is not a direct response to any particular contribution in the debate on the race-based affirmative action policy at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Rather, while I try to understand the essential line of argumentation of each of the UCT authors, my article points to the importance of equity and access as crucial factors in higher education participation. I argue that these issues cannot, and should not be separated from the notion of affirmative action and race as a university admission criterion. Drawing mainly on James's (2007) work on equity and access, I highlight a number of myths related to equality of access. I also indicate how institutional reputation can play a possible part in creating an image of systemic equity, while the majority of 'black' undergraduate students in South Africa are enrolling at less reputable and even poor quality higher education institutions. The article finally argues for admissions policies that are wider in scope and not based solely on racial criteria, but also on applicants' socio-economic status - particularly at universities that have largely achieved their 'racial targets'.
Author A. GouwsSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 24, pp 313 –317 (2010)More Less
In this article I draw on the Sarte's notion of seriality as theorized in his book Dialectic of Reason and as interpreted by Iris Marion Young. I argue that seriality can be used to escape the false essentialism and identity politics of race as a category for admissions to universities. A series is a social collective whose members are unified passively by the objects around which their action is oriented, while a group is a collective where members recognize themselves and others pursuing the same goal (often leading to identity politics). Race as a series designates structural relations to material objects produced by prior history and material necessities of past practices, but disconnected from a racial identity.
Student being and becoming at the university : a response from the perspective of a reflexive sociology of teacher educationAuthor A. FataarSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 24, pp 318 –330 (2010)More Less
This article is a discussion of the educational being and becoming of university students. It focuses on the reflexive adaptations of a group of teacher education students at a South African university. I consider some key processes related to their formal epistemological induction into their professional becoming as teachers. Based on a discussion of dialogical interactions with my students on a teaching practice programme, I offer the argument that induction into the knowledge of the university has to take into account the ontological dimension of their becoming. This article suggests that university knowledge and pedagogy will find greater conceptual purchase if it is alert to the nature of student becoming. The article deploys the concept 'teacherly becoming' to discuss how the students engaged with their professional education in the light of their teaching practice experiences at a school and their university learning on a teacher education programme.
Author L. Le GrangeSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 24, pp 331 –337 (2010)More Less
At the heart of the discussion in this special issue on race and affirmative action is the issue of whether race should be used as a category in admissions policies of South African universities. In my contribution I shall argue that there are no races. By race I mean the idea that skin colour (or other phenotypical features) associated with different social groups in South Africa is indicative of distinctive intellectual and moral essences. I suggest that the matter at hand is one of justice / fairness and not one of skin colour. In other words, the debate should be about the reality that certain social groups were disadvantaged during apartheid and that, as citizens, members of such social groups should be given equal life chances. I argue that in order to ensure that all citizens are given equal life chances it is necessary that contingent colour conscious should form part of public policy.
Author S.J. BerkhoutSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 24, pp 338 –345 (2010)More Less
Soudien (2009) states that affirmative action is not just about 'inhabiting the university with people of colour; it is about appropriating the transcendence it makes possible as a consummately human and open-ended gift to humankind, and not, critically, a "white" gift'. This engagement with Soudien's (2009) invitation to take up the challenge of defining what constitutes affirmative action focuses on the power of statistical indicators and indices constitution of injustice.
Indexing has become a practice whereby the South African state 'conducts conduct' (govern) at universities at the intersection of the desire for inclusive justice and in the wake of a pattern of performance-driven management indices that globally constitute hierarchies of quality. In the translation of constitutional demands, legislation and policy into strategic action based on performance codes and statistical indicators, desire and performance become interactively constituted as the Real. These indices trap issues around higher education institutions and their qualifications within a discourse that precludes any debate about justice and mires the development of alternative codes of justice other than targets based on 'race' (as instituted by the apartheid government) and global rankings and ratings of quality.
In this brief response I want to argue for the critical engagement with the constitutive power of strategic initiatives that articulate affirmative action only in terms of racially oppositional and global competitive quantitative indicators and for the continuous deliberation that allows for the imaginative exploration of subjectivity, beyond the indexed boundaries that affirm only historical inequities.
Author A. BadroodienSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 24, pp 346 –357 (2010)More Less
This article examines the necessary shift to a sociality of meaning-making for university entrants if the goals of affirmative action within higher education, and the possible effects of its continued application, are to be fulfilled. Given that the practice of education in universities is meant to be the organisation of knowledge in ways that 'allow certain truths to break through' (Badiou 2000, 61), the article contemplates the extent to which universities as knowledge arrangers are able to instigate processes that advance the shared capacity of students to become more than the situation in which they are (Badiou 2001). It asks whether affirmative action processes can assist in achieving this goal. In doing so, it raises a bigger question within higher education in South Africa, namely how the increase in university numbers of students that would not have been categorised as white under apartheid, may be operating alongside the continued impoverishment and marginalisation of communities previously designated African, Coloured and Indian under apartheid to perpetuate what Soudien refers to as a skein of white hegemonic thinking within the higher education sector.
Author Berte Van WykSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 24, pp 358 –366 (2010)More Less
In this article I contend that we cannot divorce affirmative action from issues about race and racism. Further, debates on affirmative action have to acknowledge the power of words / concepts / definitions and how they can be constructed and used for the purposes of domination or liberation. I argue that, in debating affirmative action, we have to disrupt rather than reinforce dominant, yet illusory racial frames in the public's mind. In order to get a better understanding of debates, I explore the institutional context of the University of Cape Town. In my response to Soudien, Benatar, and Botsis I draw on ideas about the racial contract (Mills 1997), social justice concerns, and the political role of the university. Finally, I explore the role of universities in the transformation of societies.
Author P. HiggsSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 24, pp 367 –372 (2010)More Less
In the light of transformational discourses in higher education in South Africa, it has become necessary to pose the question - what is a university? Such a question requires that the idea of the university, as well as its role in society be reflected upon critically.
Beyond the university of racial diversity : some remarks on race, diversity, (dis)advantage and affirmative actionAuthor Y. WaghidSource: South African Journal of Higher Education 24, pp 373 –375 (2010)More Less
The compelling essays in this issue of the journal take on the often contentious and complex issue of racial affirmative action. I do not wish to repeat the arguments authors offer either in defence or against student admissions to a university on the grounds of race, (dis)advantage, class, gender, and so on. Rather, I wish to respond to a question which has been touched on by some authors: Should a university advance racial diversity? My argument is that a university should move beyond the cultivation of racial diversity to a university which priviledges the pursuit of truths.