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Reflecting on student struggles and achievements – 43 years on

Reflecting on student struggles and achievements – 43 years on

This year marks 43 years since the events of 16 June 1976. As the country observes this historic milestone since the youth of South Africa in particular students took to the streets to voice their displeasure and concerns with the introduction of Afrikaans as a single medium of instruction, a lot has certainly changed in the country’s education landscape.


The heroic deeds of the students of 1976 have undoubtedly helped accelerate the tempo towards the realization of freedom, as thousands fled the country to join liberation movements in exile and many losing their lives in the process. It is important to note that these activities of 1976 were in the main coordinated by young people.


Fast forward to the post liberation and democratic period, the landscape in education has significantly changed in South Africa with students scoring some victories.


Some Universities have habitually been the preserve of a few in particular those who could afford the exorbitant fees charged by the various institutions. Nonetheless, the goal posts have indeed shifted as more and more young people currently find themselves in the higher education system, even those who are so poor or previously disadvantaged. This has been made possible of course by the intercession made by government to change the lives of the people through progressive policies that seek to redress the imbalances of the past.


In an effort to further increase access to these institutions, government has effectively over the years made money available through the NSFAS to help those whose families cannot afford to pay for their education.


One can argue that today, institutions of higher learning are indeed the epicenter of the struggle as more and more students call for access, quality free higher education, transformation, decolonization of the curriculum, better infrastructure, intersectionality matters, the demise of apartheid symbols, insourcing of workers etc.


The activities of the fallist movements as characterized by the Rhodes must fall and the recent #FeesMustFall have captured the imagination of the nation and altered the higher education landscape perhaps for the benefit of generations to come in a manner unprecedented and scoring victories in the process.


Today, Institutions of higher learning, government as well as students and other key stakeholders continue to grapple with ways and means of ensuring that access to higher education is fully realized.


The management of Universities across the board are now dealing with new and emerging challenges as a result of more numbers competing to gain access to these institutions while funding from government has been dwindling over the years. This means that while doors are opening, there is no adequate space and infrastructure to accommodate every student especially in public universities.


Additionally, there appear to be concerns about maintaining the quality of the research output, quality of teaching and learning across universities as well as holding on to experienced and eminent academics while at the same time ensuring that the numbers of student enrollments increase. It is indeed a tightrope to walk as many strive to strike a balance and ensuring that the standing of their universities is safeguarded as well as improving and maintaining the high quality of graduates produced.


Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University is undoubtedly playing its part to ensure through its five schools that quality health sciences professionals are nurtured and produced for the benefit of the country.


SMU is arguably better positioned to provide solutions to the health challenges facing the country through its graduates and research efforts. Furthermore, through its community service programs, the University students are already making a meaningful contribution to the wellbeing of citizens working under strict supervision.


In remembering the generation of 1976, one can without any shadow of doubt proclaim that their relentless fight in pursuit of equal access to education, and their acts of valor were not at all in vain. Their heroic deeds paved the way for the current and future generations to complete what they started. However, there is still a lot to be done to adequately address emerging challenges and demands.


Phaladi Seakgwe is SMU Communication Manager. Writing in his personal capacity.

SMU collaborates with the University of Nottingham on GBV issues

SMU collaborates with the University of Nottingham on GBV issues

SMU is today hosting international visitors from the University of Nottingham – a UK based institution to crystallize the collaboration between the two Universities on Gender Based Violence issues.


Deputy Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize lauded both institutions for the initiative.

In her address to those present, Prof Mkhize emphasised the need for collaborations among institutions as they serve as critical agencies of change. She further said that as a country, South Africa has done a lot of work in ensuring that progressive legislations are in place to deal with the scourge of Gender Based Violence, however decried the continuous presence of cases of date rape affecting young women in particular students as well as corrective rape mainly experienced by members of the LGBTQI community.


She further denounced the rising numbers of femicide and called for action by law enforcement agencies and encouraged victims to report the cases. ” A number of parents have lost their daughters in the hands of their lovers. In most cases evidence based information is required to successfully deal with such instances and I want to encourage institutions to get this right through research initiatives and understanding the dynamics of social phenomena as this will greatly help society”, said the Deputy Minister.


Speaking on behalf of the University, the Deputy Vice Chancellor responsible for Research Prof Ayo-Yusuf thanked the University of Nottingham for choosing SMU. He said collaborations are mutually dependent and appealed to more international partners to walk with SMU to make an impact in society.


The international visitors are hosted by the University Nursing Department and will be with the University until 12 July 2019.

By Phaladi Seakgwe

Gender Based Violence – a menace that needs to be confronted and defeated

Gender Based Violence – a menace that needs to be confronted and defeated

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a global phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality, and continues to be one of the most notable human rights violations prevalent in every society and worldwide. GBV is violence directed against a person because of their gender, both women and men experience gender-based violence but the majority of victims are women and girls.


South Africa is rated among the highest in the world in terms of inequality and sexual violence for women. Cultural and societal norms greatly influence human behaviour, and as such, can also influence violent behaviour. Violence against women is regarded as a normal attitude or remains hidden or tacitly condoned, therefore men demonstrate their masculine dominant role and supremacy over their women with especially the rural women facing all types of violation in their life. It is evident that men use their power to intimidate women, and believe that they have the right to abuse women and children

Recently, there has been a marked increase in the rate of GBV including femicide country wide; and Institutions of Higher Learning are no exception. The latest is the attack of the University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana, who was tortured, raped and murdered by the post office worker outside University grounds and this incident shook the South African society. Her body was burnt and buried in the township; and this confirmed that GBV and femicide are a broader national problem in South Africa. This has led to many people and civil society organizations protesting country wide calling for an end to the violence.


The modern xenophobic attacks towards our brothers and sisters are also not acceptable. It is through this violence that innocent lives have been lost, an end has been put to a bright future.


Rape, targeting young adolescents and women is a serious problem; which also has a significant negative impact to the South African economy. Not only is this a barricade to economic growth, but those who are subjected to this kind of violence are destroyed as a people and are haunted by these horrific experiences. Some are not able to rise above the incidents and are therefore destroyed for life.


South Africa is a signatory to a number of international treaties on GBV, and strong legislative framework, for example the Sexual Offences Act (2007) and the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) (1998). To add on that, South Africa has the most progressive Constitution in the world regarding gender equality, yet the country is the epicentre of some of the most gruesome and brutal cases of violence against women and children. It is the obligation of the state to protect and promote all human rights of all citizens, therefore, due diligence must be exercised to prevent violence against women and children, to investigate its occurrence and to punish the perpetrators. Doing so will provide protection to women and children, who are the main victims, and will ensure that they enjoy their human rights and freedom.


For us to address GBV, a multi-faceted approach and commitment is to be followed. We need long term coordinated efforts from all the stakeholders; and this includes law enforcement agencies, civil society, the government, private individuals, non-governmental organisations, justice system, departments of health and of education. In addition, men and boys should be actively engaged in campaigns and the planning of programmes aimed at changing the negative attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate violence, and the platform should be utilised to bring about sustained social and cultural change.


GBV is everybody’s business, we therefore need to do our best to engage everyone to promote a violence free society whereby all the mentioned structures in our society aim to promote equality, stability and peace.


By Dr Moreoagae Randa

Dr Moreoagae Randa is a Lecturer in the SMU Nursing Science Department

She writes in her personal capacity