UCT and Fort Hare agreement

03 March 2003
UCT and the University of Fort Hare have held important discussions on co-operation and partnership in a bid to bridge the historical gap between the two institutions.

Speaking after the meeting at Fort Hare in December, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Njabulo Ndebele, said he was excited by the possibility of exploring new relations in the education sector.

Addressing Fort Hare's executive management, Ndebele said that the two institutions had been shaped by a common history, and that there were interesting parallels between the two institutions. Both were old South African institutions that had been affected by racial laws.

“What I would like to explore with Fort Hare is knowledge interaction and synergies based on the robust (Fort Hare) Strategic Plan 2000, with short-to medium-term decisions to be followed up,” he said.

He added that UCT was looking at a broad institutional agreement that would establish an infrastructure that could get the collaboration going “sooner rather than later”. Areas of co-operation identified included: coastal and marine studies, biotechnology, health, humanities, rural management, information and communication technology, as well as library holdings as Fort Hare is the custodian of the liberation struggle archives.

Ndebele paid tribute to Fort Hare's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Derrick Swartz, for his “considerable intellect, breadth of vision and contribution to the South African Universities' Vice-Chancellors' Association (SAUVCA) as a vice chair”.

Though the higher education sector faced significant challenges, Ndebele said it was a privilege to participate in the transformation, saying he saw the process in the same light as the birth of South Africa's democracy and the transformation in business and civic sectors.

Swartz expressed great hope that the Fort Hare/UCT collaboration would spill over to other institutions where issues of culture, identity and transformation could be discussed. He said culture identity discussions needed to be extended to other institutions and not be sublimated.

He explained that leaders in institutions of higher learning needed to take off their caps as vice-chancellors and deputy vice-chancellors and have round table discussions on unspoken and unseen rules that governed institutions.

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