What’s race got to do with it?

2014-02-09 14:00

Should race still play a part in determining if someone is disadvantaged?

As South Africans celebrate 20 years of democracy, some sections of society are beginning to ask if universities’ race-based admission policies are still ­relevant.

There are growing concerns that despite the glaring inequalities in access to universities, it cannot still be assumed that all black students are poor and that their white counterparts come from rich families.

Siboniso Ntshangase (22) has a mechanical engineering degree and wants to study aeronautical engineering next year. He says he cannot be regarded as historically disadvantaged.

“I live in Alberton and my parents are wealthy. We stay in a R5?million ­mansion. My father is a wealthy businessman who benefited from BEE policies and we have everything.”

But he cautioned that his situation was not the norm.

“There are black families who are rich and others who are middle class and can afford to send their kids to posh and private schools. Such people cannot be regarded as historically disadvantaged.

“But we shouldn’t get carried away. We know that more than 80% of the black population has to deal with bad government schools and, as such, they are still disadvantaged.

“And I think it would really be premature to dump racially skewed admission policies.”

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