Violence in SA education a crisis - academics

2016-05-21 14:24
Professor Jonathan Jansen and Professor Adam Habib speak at the Kingsmead Book Fair in Rosebank. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

Professor Jonathan Jansen and Professor Adam Habib speak at the Kingsmead Book Fair in Rosebank. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg – Two of South Africa’s most outspoken and prolific academics have called for better leadership and more participation from communities in improving education.  

Vice chancellor of the University of the Free State, Professor Jonathan Jansen and Wits University vice chancellor, Professor Adam Habib, appeared at the Kingsmead Book Fair in Rosebank where they discussed violence in education.

The pair highlighted some of the causes of violence in the education sector and saying South Africa was in a crisis.

Jansen began the discussion by reminding the audience that South Africa emerged from a violent history. He said apartheid violence affected many people who now have a "genuine anger".

"There is a group of young people who believe that destroying universities is a twisted form of revolution. There is no evidence of it going away anytime soon."

Habib agreed with Jansen, saying violence at universities was a microcosm of the larger problem in society.

"There is violence everywhere. This violence has increased because of a dramatic polarisation in society. People's perception of inequality has grown. Inequality is a dangerous thing because it alienates people."

Habib added that violence had become more prevalent because there weren't enough consequences.

"When violence erupts at Wits University, it takes me four to five hours to get police active. When they arrive, they look at me and say they are not sure what to do. I have even had to phone the premier and threaten them to humiliate publicly."

Habib added that police were yet to take action against students whose names were handed over by the university.

Crisis in leadership

According to Habib, violence in Vuwani, where a number of schools were burnt down in succession, pointed to a lack of proper leadership.

"If we look at the celebrations in Fort Hare yesterday, there was a massive contingent of police. Why did this not happen in Vuwani? Why did it take so long to act? This divide is what is contributing to a serious problem in our country."

Jansen agreed, adding that young people largely learnt from what they observed from political leadership.

"If a young person observes these kind of public values in political behaviour, this is the example they take away."

Jansen said that ultimately, a shift in mindset, not policing, was required.

"Yes, the police can come in and stop violence today. But what about the next day or the next week? What we need are parents, community members, shining examples in society to come forward and guide our youth."

Jansen said that early childhood education also needed to be analysed.

"We lose half a million kids from grade one to matric. Early education is vital."

Jansen recently announced that he would be stepping down from his position at UFS to take up an invitation as a Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Studies in the Behavioural Sciences at the US’s Stanford University in September 2016.

Read more on:    jonathan jansen  |  adam habib  |  durban  |  education

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

How much food do you need to concentrate?

We have been taught that we need three meals a day in order to make it through the day and while most of us indulge in more than our fair share there is a large portion of South Africans who are living off barely enough to sustain them.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.