The importance of being equal


THE UNIVERSITY OF Cape Town is pandering to government pressure for “instant transformation” by implementing shockingly discriminatory Health Sciences admission requirements. Points required for entry at the university differ according to the racial group an applicant is a member of.

It is iniquitous to assume that all those of a previously disadvantaged race group have received a substandard education – and consequently unfair as those coloureds, Indians and blacks who went to good schools are receiving the benefit of lower admission requirements compared to their white counterparts. It is also an insult to nonwhites’ intellect and abilities that they have to be graded differently – reinforcing an inferiority complex that apartheid did its level best to ingrain.

There is no quick fix to the many lamentable problems we face in South Africa today. Thirty years of Bantu Education and an imploding health system cannot be solved by the lowering of entrance requirements which will definitely not result in lasting, positive transformation. Indeed, allowing possibly inadequate and underskilled previously disadvantaged students to enrol at UCT will result in the pool of competent medical professionals being eroded and a wastage of academic and administrative resources should the students be unable to complete the course.

It will take time to raise the standard of high school education. Until this is achieved, the only appropriate, non-racist solution to bring about sustainable transformation are Alternative Admissions Tests and the screening of promising nonwhites who do not have enough points.

We are thirteen years into the new South Africa. When can this country and government drop its obsession with race? The shackles of apartheid’s painful legacy cannot be loosened by maltreating its symptoms. As long as universities maintain divisiveness through their prejudiced entrance requirements, healing the past’s injustices without creating new ones will be impossible.

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