‘Quotas are racist policies that diminish the worth of students’

2014-02-17 00:00

“ONE danger of not differentiating [between black beneficiaries of the quota system] is that a kid from St John’s [College] or the son of a BEE entrepreneur might take the place of a kid from Mdantsane or the rural areas, based only on their colour,” he said. “I know of a parent who is coloured who is married to a guy of Indian ancestry, and she is demanding that their child at school be reclassified as coloured to benefit from race quotas at universities. We are engaging in this silliness as a nation; it is a tragedy.”

Jansen slammed all race quotas as “racist” policies that diminished the worth of students of all colours — saying UFS was “achieving real diversity”, as well as high graduation rates in key subjects.

He said he had asked medical school officials to devise an “interview system” that would reward applicants who had personally overcome hardships and who had “shown a commitment to community service”.

He said UFS had benefited by poaching top Indian and white students from KZN and the Western Cape who had been turned away due to race quotas in their provinces.

The UFS medical school teaches in English and Afrikaans, and Jansen admitted that applicants for the latter medium “tend to be white”.

But Jansen said the university’s united, non-racial atmosphere was also attracting star black matriculants from other provinces. He added, “We tend to attract top students who are poor, whereas UCT tends to attract black students from middle-class schools.”

Price agreed that about half of UCT’s black applicants were middle class — but returned Jansen’s jab by saying, “He says race plays no part in admissions? I don’t know that Jonathan is aware of what is going on within his own faculties.”

Price said the fact that middle-class black matriculants do very well, but seven percent less well than white Grade 12s on average, meant a pure class quota system would not work.

“If we shift entirely to disadvantage as the criterion, then black middle-class students will disappear from campus because, while they do well at school, they don’t do quite as well as the white kids, and they would no longer have any disadvantage. And we know disadvantaged kids are less assertive in class and face many more obstacles. So you’d end up perpetuating race stereotypes on campus, with excellent white kids and failing black kids.”

Price said UCT was currently testing a system of four proxies to improve socioeconomic diversity, with a new policy due next month. These include: the quality of the school the student came from, based on senior certificate results; the education level of the student’s parents and grandparents; their income level, based on their dependence on social grants; and home language.

But he said race should continue to act as an additional criterion.

In addition, he said UCT understood that sportspeople would have scored higher in their exams had they not had to practice every day and would consider extramural activities in admissions.

Dear Mr President

I write this letter with much distress. My forefathers left India and sailed for South Africa where they were promised a better and more prosperous life. On arrival, their sufferings continued when they were physically and emotionally tortured by the colonial powers who squeezed them like a water-soaked sponge. Like many other Indentured Labourers they chose to remain in their new adopted country where they worked hard to change the political, economic, cultural and social landscape.

I am now a 16-year-old Grade 12 learner in the pinnacle of my schooling career and on the threshold of preparing for tertiary education. I attend Southlands Secondary School, a public school in Chatsworth, Durban. I was born in 1997 and consider myself a “born free”.

I need to remind you, Mr President, that when the matric results were announced and all the top learners were paraded in front of the nation, there was no mention of any race differences. However all this changed when the successful matriculants applied for tertiary education. Suddenly, they were transformed, categorised and placed into silos according to race. Sadly, many of my friends and family members, were classified as Indians and despite their exceptional good results with mostly straight As, were refused acceptance in medical school and other popular career choices because of the so-called quota system.

Once again, during this time of the year, there is a mass exodus of bright young “classified” South Africans to countries such as China, Mauritius, India, Philippines and other foreign destinations who fall prey to unscrupulous recruiting agents.

With the assistance of my parents and teachers I am doing everything possible to ensure that I obtain the best education to prepare me for the future. I compliment my normal school work with extra tuition with the aim of obtaining good symbols to fulfil my academic ambitions. However despite all these efforts, I feel that I am wasting my time. As a “classified” race group, our future is very bleak.

Will I be given an opportunity to help in the development of this country that I love so much?

Keiyuren Govender

Keiyuren Govender’s letter to jacob zuma

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