Vice Chancellor and Principal's Youth Day Message

Posted on June 15, 2016

This week, we commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Soweto uprising in protest against inferior education and by extension the entire system of race-based oppression then dominant in South Africa. Our democracy and our education system owe a great debt to the youth of that era, and so it is fitting that we recognise the sacrifices and contribution of those young men and women to the democracy we enjoy today.

Since 1994, the number of students accessing higher education has more than doubled. Today the vast majority of students are black while more than 50% are women. This is in itself a significant victory, but we acknowledge that there is a need to do much more.

Two great challenges facing higher education today are funding and transformation.

One way in which we can honour the memory of the youth of 1976 is by making a contribution to the ongoing, robust conversation about transformation between students, government, university governance and university management. The three transformation work streams established at UP, focusing on language policy, institutional culture, and curricula, are still able to accept submissions. Make your voice heard, be part of the conversations, submit your proposals. In this way, we can develop policies which will shape the priorities and values of our University.

Heated debate is often reflective of the gravity of the issues under discussion and the passion of the participants. Although it is sometimes difficult, we urge all of you to make the effort to listen to each other and respect that we come from a diversity of backgrounds. We may not always agree, but we must never stop talking, never break our commitment to peace and never dishonour the Constitution of our country.

Let us honour the memory of the youth of 1976 whose sacrifices have bequeathed upon us a strong system of schools, colleges and universities, which is not perfect, but upon which we can build a firm foundation for the future of South Africa.

We take this opportunity to wish each and everyone of you, a reflective and rejuvenating Youth Day.



- Author Department of University Relations

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