Problems at UCT started long ago and its equitable solution has little to do with removing the statue of Cecil John Rhodes. As a graduate of UWC and a former post-graduate student at UCT the variances between these two universities was huge and persist.
UCT favours specific elite with regards to the money making degrees. Example, the social science faculty was always a free for all; the engineering, medical and finance faculty remain untransformed.
Since society as a whole will lose from the dumbing-down of academic standards, what is required is honesty from the leaders at UCT. They must consider what it means to be a world class university amidst an ocean of human suffering. What value does this status have on our local reality when many UCT alumni work and pay tax in Europe and America? Since they add little value to our economy, why is UCT using our tax money to train medical staff for British, Arab and Australian societies?
When UCT promotes itself as the best African university how does that help a brown (read Coloured) teen from Athlone who is rationally gifted but has no hope of making UCT medical school due to fiscal constraints? Common sense suggests that genuine migration is an option only for the wealthy, global xenophobia is the response to the poor. Why then does UCT train demographics prone to migration?
Honest change requires researching the historic demographic at UCT’s medical, engineering and finance faculties. Example since brown people in Cape Town are more than 60% of the population, why are we so under-represented in the money making faculties? Does UCT bearing in mind its location, serve its majority community? Can UCT think globally but create more local value.
Example, there are thousands of retired Capetonians who paid taxes during years of service. Today they have no medical aid. They now share hospital queues and beds with drug addicts, gangsters and vagrants that made no taxation input and who also demand equal service. Since doctors are costly to train and many migrate, on the Cape Flats it costs from R250 to R350 to visit a doctor. Is this fair?
Reality suggests UCT graduates enjoy better prospects because of quality degrees and the historic “Old Boys” networks which continue to exist. While the racial issues at UCT seem like a black on white struggle, brown Capetonians remain spectators.
Consider this, during Apartheid the white National Party knew there days were numbered and in the 1970’s invested into a separate and less equal education for brown people, thus UWC. Within two decades the Nat’s created a growing brown middle class. Politically this foresight protected the Nat’s and its offspring the Democratic Alliance against black expansion into the Western Cape until today.
While this comparison may seem racist and simplistic, for centuries UCT has metaphorically given local brown peoples the finger. Ironically should emergent black elitist overthrow the reigning white elitists at UCT how does this benefit the brown majority of Cape Town? Will the brown majority remain silent victims waiting to be rescued, will it help if they also start throwing poo.
In the words of the wise, should UCT continue to advance the agenda of deep-rooted white elite as suggested by the media or the agenda of emergent few black elite? Is it conceivable that UCT could serve the needs of the hard working ordinary majority in Cape Town white, black and brown?
Cllr Yagyah Adams
Cape Muslim Congress