Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price recently hosted the Ford Foundation's Board of Trustees and senior leadership as part of their trip to South Africa to mark the twentieth anniversary of Ford opening their Office for Southern Africa.
In welcoming them, Price acknowledged the foundation for the critical role it played in South Africa's transition to democracy.
The Ford Foundation's involvement with UCT stretches back to 1978 when it made funds available for the university to bring together a group of human rights leaders. "It was for something quite subversive, which we liked," observed Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation. "Imagine the courage it took for this university - in the middle of the horrors of Apartheid - to convene a group of international human rights defenders to carry the message of what was happening in this country at the time, out to the world," he added.
To date, the total donations from the foundation to UCT amount to over R80 million.
The Vice-Chancellor also pointed out the fragility of South African democracy. "The gains made over the last two decades can easily be reversed. Not reversed in the sense that there's a threat of white minority rule returning, but reversed in the sense that the commitment to constitutional government and the rule of law; the commitment to an independent judiciary and the separation of power; the commitment to reducing inequality instead of enriching a new middle class; the commitment to changing the lives of those who for three centuries have been the victims of colonialism and Apartheid; is lacking.
"The situation needs ongoing support from philanthropy as South Africa's success is a key pillar for Africa's success and therefore investing in the success of South Africa is a vehicle to investing in the success of the continent," commented Price.
Ford Foundation's goal in Southern Africa is "to reduce socioeconomic inequalities and HIV/AIDS vulnerabilities by working with civil society and the public sector on a variety of fronts to integrate good governance, educational opportunities and asset mobilisation."
Meeting of minds: Guests at the Ford Foundation lunch included (from left) Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tony Carr, Educational Technologist in the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching and Assoc Prof Laura Czerniewicz, head of the OpenUCT Initiative.
Story by Abigail Calata. Images by Raymond Botha.
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