World Watch

19 May 2003
The University of Stellenbosch has announced the suspension of the head and house committee members of its Majuba residence. This follows an independent report into an attack on two students at the men's hostel in April.

Stellenbosch has also accused the media of creating a storm in a teacup by perpetuating "ridiculous" stories about the alleged victimisation of black, gay and Jewish students on campus. The university has, however, set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the allegations.

The Durban Institute of Technology's management has been criticised by the city health department and unions for slaughtering a beast on campus in an attempt to halt the death of students and staff. In April, management staff conducted a traditional cleansing ceremony on campus that was attended by traditional healers and involved the burning of incense and the slaughtering of a bull to communicate with ancestors. The technikon's employees' union has slammed the incident as a "barbaric" ritual that is "out of touch with reality".

All higher education institutions will come under scrutiny over the next six years as the Council on Higher Education (CHE) begins a national audit of the quality of teaching, learning, research and community service. Pilot audits begin in October at the University of Pretoria, Vaal Technikon and Midrand Graduate College.

According to the national Department of Education's upcoming report, Guidelines for Mergers and Incorporations, 21 of the country's 36 vice-chancellors will have to reapply for their positions when their institutions merge. The mergers - which start next year - follow a decision by the government to reduce the number of technikons and universities from 36 to 24 because of duplication. The report will be released later this month.

The Ugandan parliament has passed a resolution authorising the existence of Gulu University amid concerns of under-funding. The university will boast faculties of medicine, engineering, agricultural sciences and human resource management.

South End Press, a respected academic publishing house in the US, has demanded the immediate release of Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, an Iraqi scientist whom US military forces arrested recently because of suspicions that she is a key figure in Iraq's alleged biological-weapons programme. South End Press, which published Ammash's research paper, Toxic Pollution, the Gulf War, and Sanctions, in Iraq Under Siege (2002), an anthology about the effects of war and sanctions, has accused the US government of political persecution and attempting to silence the Iraqi scholar through her detainment.

Harvard Divinity School in the US is considering whether to return a US$2.5-million (just under R18.5-m) donation to the president of the United Arab Emirates after questions were raised about his connection to a controversial Middle Eastern think tank, the Zayed Centre for Co-ordination and Follow-Up. The Centre has in recent years been host to speakers and has published books with anti-Semitic and anti-American views.

The University of California at Berkeley has barred from its summer session any students from China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan, citing concerns about severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. The university is apparently the first major institution in the US to have adopted such a policy.

As part of its campaign to end corruption in education, a militant group in northeastern India, known as the Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), is trying to force professors to conduct courses in their classrooms instead of at private tutoring sessions. The militants - who shot and wounded seven people last year for helping students cheat on exams - declared that as of May 1, teachers and professors in the northeastern state of Manipur would no longer be permitted to offer private, for-profit classes. The group is apparently opposed to the system that forces students to enrol in expensive private coaching courses because their professors, who are busy tutoring, do not come to class.

An international group of scientists in southern Iraq hopes to undertake one of the world's most ambitious attempts at restoring an ecosystem. The scientists, with the help of the Iraq Foundation, a private philanthropy, want to turn an expanse of desert and fetid mud back into the rich marshland reputed to have been the biblical Garden of Eden.

Sources:, Chronicle of Higher Education, Independent Online

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Monday Monthly

Volume 22 Edition 13

19 May 2003

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