Effective dialogue urgently needed

2016-03-23 06:00

THE university academic year has just started and already we are off to a damaging start.

Many universities across South Africa have halted academic work due to vandalism and violence. These recent events are not good for students and are very disheartening.

I strongly believe and support that universities must be places of robust academic debate and dialogue, even if it means making space for dissenting voices or views that are controversial or opinions that are deeply intimidating.

I also understand the anger and frustration of some students, and I identify and empathise with their legitimate grievances.

However, when the protest becomes destructive, intimidating and violent, and obstructs teaching and learning, I do not condone that.

Although university administration has its role to play in transforming campuses, it is ultimately up to the students to help universities transform.

Parents and community leaders must also help and guide students on how to engage and communicate effectively with university administration, regarding their challenges and grievances.

Critical dialogue and effective communication need to take place urgently in order to address transformation, student housing, fee structure, accommodation, language policy and other issues affecting the students.

Mandatory workshops and social-justice modules would be an ideal way to ensure that students are aware of the resources and mechanisms available to them for conflict resolution.


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