News & Media

"Transformation is not about reducing quality"

Mr Sakhi Simelane, Chairperson of Unisa Council

"The transformation agenda in a broad sense talks to how we understand our history as South Africans and as an institution. It should talk to our values and make people feel at home, irrespective of their race," said Mr Sakhi Simelane, Chairperson of Unisa Council.

Simelane describes Council as an oversight body responsible for all the affairs of the university, and compares its role to that of the board of a private institution. "We look at the institution’s affairs and its strategic direction. The Council consists of about 30 members, the majority of which are external members, and stakeholders such as the National Student Representative Council (NSRC), Senate and non-academics are represented."

The pillar elements of the transformation agenda include language and curriculum transformation. "We need to make sure that we transform the curriculum and that our research agenda talks to us as Africans and positively contributes to changing the lives of people. Talking is part of finding solutions and managing change, and makes it possible for us to consider all the risk areas. Talking becomes a problem when it does not end as we need to act and move forward," says Simelane. He believes that transforming the curriculum cannot start at higher institutions of learning, as it is the entire system that has to change. Much of the debate on transforming the curriculum has been based on the misconception that it has to be more African. He argues that this is not in fact the case, as the aim is not to reduce quality, but rather to be globally competitive and produce quality that is relevant to our needs.

He urged all at Unisa to embrace the positive role that the university is playing in people’s lives, and encouraged everyone to communicate this to the institution’s stakeholders. He concluded with the words: "Unisa gives access to institutions of higher learning; we carry a lot of students, so supporting the institution should start with us as Unisans. We should accord Unisa the right status it deserves in the country."

* By Nancy Legodi, Acting Journalist, Publications, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2019/11/12