World Watch

05 March 2007

FINANCE MINISTER Trevor Manuel announced an additional R1.2 billion for science and technology at the 2007 budget speech. R500 million of this will go to South Africa's short-listed bid to host a global astronomical initiative, the Square Kilometre Array, a series of enormous telescopes across the Northern Cape, which would use radio waves to peer into the origins of the universe.

THERE WAS MAYHEM at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology on 22 February when at least five students and three security guards were injured during a student strike that turned violent. A group of about 1 000 students on the Cape Town campus began throwing stones at 15 security guards, one of whom was stabbed in the back. The guards retaliated by hitting the students with batons. Students were protesting because about 50 students were refused re-admission into their courses on grounds of academic performance, outstanding fees or, in some cases, both.

VANILLA CUPCAKES, with a variety of colourful toppings, were on sale at the University of Pretoria campus piazza where the Freedom Front Plus student organisation (VF + TAS) held the event - which was promptly stopped by university management. What was different was this: white, Indian and coloured students could buy their culinary delights for R5 apiece, while black students paid only R2. Students who could prove they were ANC members received their cupcakes free, but had to put money into a "corruption box".

THE SOUTH AFRICAN Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) expressed disappointment at the poor pass rate of Chartered Accounting (CA) students. The overall pass rate, in the qualifying exams written as part of a process to becoming fully qualified CAs, was 41 %, a 14 % decrease from 2006, said president of SAICA, Ignatius Sehoole.

JAMES SHERLEY, an African-American stem cell researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, began a hunger strike in February to protest the school's denial of his bid for tenure. He claims that racism played a part in his rejection. Sherley would have been the first tenured African-American in the 41-person biological engineering department on a campus where 4% of the tenured faculty are under-represented ethnic minorities.

VIRGINIA LEGISLATORS unanimously approved a bill that would prevent public universities from expelling or punishing students based solely on suicidal behaviour or seeking treatment for suicidal thoughts or behaviours. The legislative effort came in response to several recent high-profile cases in which students sued their universities for being suspended after attempting suicide or seeking treatment for depression.

Sources: Independent Online, Chronicle of Higher Education online, Die Burger, Academy of Science of South Africa,

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