Human Rights Month: Message from the Vice-Chancellor and Principal

Posted on March 21, 2023

On 21 March 1960, police opened fire on unarmed demonstrators who sought freedom against the unjust pass laws of the time. This moment in history is entrenched in the consciousness of South Africa as Human Rights Day, when we come together to remember that every person has a right to basic freedoms as entrenched in our Constitution.

The University of Pretoria is committed to a culture of non-racism and entrenching ideals that uphold human rights, tolerance and respect for each individual.

We believe that the work we do should live up to our motto and make today and every day matter by ensuring that we live THE UP WAY in the manner that we uplift people and make a positive impact on their lives.

South Africa is famous for its progressive Constitution which we can be proud of because the University of Pretoria is inextricably linked to this facet of South Africa’s history. It was our academics from the Centre for Human Rights who were charged with helping draft the Constitution.

Our Constitution enshrines the rights of all people based on values of freedom, equality and non-racialism or sexism. These are values of which UP is proud, and which we strive to imbue in our students and staff on a daily basis. A culture of human rights should not only be visible at institutional level but it should be carried by our students into the wider world. We can ask ourselves how do human rights impact on all that we do: is our research helping to solve a problem for the greater social good? Are we helping improve the lives of others? Do we deliver services on time and do we respond timeously and with the correct information to enquiries? Are we conscious of sustainability and the fact that human rights and lives are positively impacted with the longevity of our institution? Streamlining these efficiencies is a simple and effective way of ensuring that we help people every step of the way in order to have a positive impact on our immediate environment.

We are proud of the broad-based support structures and excellent teaching and learning that forms a positively enabling environment so that our students graduate on time and are ready for the workplace, or capable of starting their own businesses. By producing creative students who are critical thinkers ready for the world beyond university, we are making a direct impact on families, industries and society as whole. This is because by acknowledging the dignity and human rights of the individual and uplifting each student through the quality, relevance and impact of our programmes, we are not only ensuring their success, but we are also ensuring the success of our country in the long run.

We hope that we can reflect on the history of this day and take a moment to consider how we can make today matter and practice intentionally having a positive impact on the world around us by viewing every individual as worthy of respect, tolerance and kindness in all our interactions.

Professor Tawana Kupe

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

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