10 January 2003

Up hill and down dale: UCT's Jean-Paul van Belle (left) and Hout Bay Harriers' Monique Beattie coming in to cross the line during the inaugural St Helena Festival of Running marathon. Both won gold medals with times of 04:42:03.3 and 04:42:03.9, respectively.

Idols finalist, Poseletso Sejosingoe, delayed her studies this year to take part in the competition. Before winning a place in the Top 12, Poseletso was a matric pupil at Fezeka High in Gugulethu. But while Poseletso is hitting the high notes, her peers are hitting the books in preparation for the matric examinations. Fezeka teachers said even if Poseletso had been eliminated from Idols last Monday (the start of matric examinations), she would not have been able to write as she had been away for almost three months. She is expected to write the examinations next March with candidates who will be writing their supplementary examinations.

Stellenbosch University's Professor Bankole Omotoso told the Black Management Form (BMF) conference that time spent on attempts at reducing Afrikaans were futile, and would be better utilised on uplifting African languages.

In Nigeria, hundreds of angry students of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, besieged the senate building of the institution, holding the vice-chancellor, his two deputies, the registrar and other top management staff hostage for close to three hours. They called on the vice-chancellor, Professor Abdullahi Mahdi, to make good his earlier threat to close down the university should lecturers maintain their "no-pay, no exams" stand. In a crucial meeting with deans, directors and heads of department the vice-chancellor had threatened that the institution would close if lecturers refused to conduct examinations for the students.

The only Universities in Niger and Mali were shut down indefinitely earlier this month, after students and lecturers in the two impoverished West African countries went on strike. In Niger, hundreds of students from the University of Niamey went on a rampage and barricaded main roads in the capital. They blocked access to the university and set car tyres on fire before the police were summoned to restore order. At the University of Mali, more than 300 lecturers stayed home from work, demanding that the government review their salaries, pay salary arrears, and evaluate other working conditions. The students and lecturers were demanding the payment of government stipends and salaries, promotions to senior ranks, and improved learning and working conditions.

The University of Ghana Legon authorities, have dismissed a total of 255 students from the faculties of arts and social studies for failing to make the minimum requirement of 1.5 Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) in the 2002/2003 examinations. A further 51 students that have been put on probation are to take courses they failed in during the academic year.

In Canada, the new School of Communication at Grant Mac Ewan College, told actor Leslie Nielson that it was going to be named after him. Nielson is best known for his portrayal of the buffoonish police officer Lt Frank Drebin in the Naked Gun trilogy. After he was persuaded that the recognition was legitimate, the 77-year-old native of Canada, who had neither attended nor given money to the college, said he was overwhelmed with pride.

In Russia, mobs in a southwestern city set upon and beat dozens of ethnic Chechen students last month during attacks apparently motivated by race. The mobs, consisting primarily of young men, injured at least 54 students at universities and high schools in Nal'chik, a city in the northern Caucasus Mountains. Members of ethnic minority groups, particularly dark-skinned students from the Caucasus region, Africa, and Asia, are regularly subjected to beatings and police harassment across Russia.

Sources: Independent Online,, The Chronicle for Higher Education

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