The higher education sector can play a significant role in the call for transformation and equality throughout South Africa. This was the message from Prof André Keet, newly-appointed Vice-Rector for Social Responsiveness and Transformation at Nelson Mandela University, who delivered the keynote address at Stellenbosch University's (SU) 2020 Transformation Indaba.
Prof Keet, who is working on research that is exploring the Transformation Barometer for South African Higher Education, said the higher education sector has the capacity to play a significant role in the call for transformation and equality throughout South Africa.
Keet also believes that universities need to move away from “disciplined transformation" and the “restrictive measures" that come with that, but rather should create unrestricted spaces where transformation processes and new ideas can freely be formed.
Over the last year, SU has seen a number of important changes and processes in the effort to transform itself into a home where all are valued, safe and loved.
At the 2020 Transformation Indaba, SU staff and students considered these changes and processes and had a moment to reflect on its impact, how close (or far) the University is from creating a dream home of transformation, and what the immediate next steps will be in getting there. Launched in 2017, the Transformation Indabas aim to address the many challenges, issues and opportunities for change at higher education institutions.
This year's Indaba, which is an annual event, was held online and facilitated by Dr Claire Kelly, Acting Head of Transformation at SU's Transformation Office.
According to Kelly, the Indaba is a “very important annual event", as it creates an opportunity for all the stakeholders at the University to come together to reflect and discuss all the burning issues of transformation on campus.
“As a Transformation Officer, it's very important to me that we check in with our University community and reflect on what has transpired over the last year regarding transformation issues on campus. However, it is important to note that the Transformation Indaba is but one moment, while our work of transformation still continues throughout the year in our respective departments at the University," said Kelly.
In his welcoming address at the Indaba, Prof Nico Koopman, Vice-Rector: Social Impact, Transformation and Personnel, said that SU should become a home where there is dignity for all, healing for all, justice for all, freedom for all and equality for all.
“I hope we can nurture the vision of a home as described in our Transformation Plan following the South African Constitution and Bill of Rights. In the Transformation Plan, we speak about transformation as both quantitative and qualitative transformation. We also speak about the transformation of SU, and transformation through SU. May the Indaba take us forward toward the vision of SU as a home, a habitat for all its inhabitants," said Koopman.
During the Indaba, various University stakeholders also reported and reflected on the following transformation topics:
- How do we ensure more participative and transparent processes at our University? The case of rebranding. Presented by Christelle Feyt & Babalwa Gusha.
- Wilcocks is (almost) no more. What have we learnt and where to from here for Visual Redress? Presented by Aslam Fataar, Renee Kannemeyer & Khairoonisa Foflonker.
- What has COVID-19 response taught us? How do you measure up our institutional COVID-19 response? Presented by Nico Koopman & Fadeelah Williams.
- The Anti-GBV Working Groups have submitted their final report. Where are we now with regards to GBV on campus? Presented by Jaco Brink & Yamkela Tyapha.
- We have a new Transformation KPA for all staff. Now what? Presented by Claire Kelly & Bantubonke Louw.
- Siyakhula is back. Do we have enough capacity to deliver our vision for transformation? Presented by Katlego Letlonkane.
- The formal process following 'the article' is over. Have we resolved this as a University community; where to from here? Presented by Ronelle Carolissen & Nadine Bowers-Du Toit.
These topics were further discussed in small breakaway sessions, where the conversations were recorded and will be collated into an Indaba report for circulation early next year.
For more information on the Transformation Office and SU's transformation work, click here.