World Watch

02 August 2004

Despite attaining the highest marks in an international singing competition, Stellenbosch University Choir has drawn criticism for not including any Afrikaans songs in their repertoire. The choir's director has rejected claims that the choir intentionally omitted material in Afrikaans at the recent Choir Olympiad in Bremen, Germany. The choir, alongside the Stellenberg Girls Choir, obtained 93%, the highest mark achieved in the competition in which 400 choirs and 20 000 choristers from 82 nations took part.

Violence broke out on the Tshwane University of Technology's GaRankuwa campus two weeks ago when protesting students, aggrieved over what they claim are high registration fees, burned three prefabricated lecture rooms to the ground. University management afterwards ordered all students - including some 1 200 living in residence - and staff off the campus, and suspended academic activities. The National Youth Commission (NYC) has expressed its disappointment at the students' conduct.

the national department of education hopes to eliminate compulsory school fees for all poor schools next year, minister of education Naledi Pandor told a recent gathering of academics, teachers, governing body members and other education stakeholders in Durban. But she cautioned that fee relief for impoverished schools should not lead to the emergence of "ghetto schools". "If we can guarantee a basic level of funding," Pandor said, "there should be no reason for a school that serves a poor community to collect fees."

There has been an 8% to 9% hike in people submitting fake Internet degrees or altered qualifications in their CVs over the past three months, says Kroll MIE, a credentials-verification company that vets the qualifications of applicants from both the private and public sectors. And according to the head of admissions and disciplinary matters at Unisa, most of the people the university has prosecuted for being in possession of fake degrees were women.

Lecturers at Moi University want the Kenyan government to order fresh elections for the university's Senate and faculty deans. They claim that elections have not been held for the past 20 years, and those holding the posts of deans were appointees of the vice-chancellor.

Nigeria's National Universities Commission (NUC) has given an ultimatum to the country's universities and Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to stop granting admission into courses without accreditation - with effect from 2005. According to the executive secretary of the commission, such programmes have deficiencies in their make-up and as such should not be offered until remedied. "Denied accreditation means that a programme lacks the minimum human and material resources for the training of quality graduates," he said.

The Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand has said it will stand by one of its lecturers who abruptly resigned his post and left the country as an espionage scandal erupted, straining relations between the governments of Israel and the South Pacific nation. Two Israeli citizens were arrested in Auckland and charged with passport fraud the day before the lecturer's departure, and were later accused - but not charged - of being agents for the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, and of conspiring in a wider, covert, but unspecified plot in the South Pacific. The New Zealand government had said that the Israelis had been assisted by at least two other people, and, according to news outlets, the well-regarded lecturer, a prominent member of Auckland's small Jewish community, may be one of the people authorities have wanted to interview in the matter. New Zealand has frozen all high-level diplomatic relations with Israel until it explains its alleged actions and apologises.

After some negotiations, the University of New Brunswick in Canada will allow a blind student in an English-immersion course to give French commands to his unilingual dog. Officials of the institution initially refused to admit the applicant, who had not signed the compulsory pledge to speak only English during the intensive summer course because his guide dog, Pavot, understood only French commands. That strict rule has been in place for more than 50 years. In the past, students have been expelled from the course for wearing T-shirts with non-English words.

Sources:, Independent Online, Chronicle of Higher Education online.

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