“Ideally, we would like to see a charter on social inclusion. Every institution must have it, based on this policy. Racism is still a problem,” he said, presenting a draft policy on social inclusion in the post-school education and training system.
“We thought that as we reflect on our 20 years of democracy, it is time that we pull this (policy) into a document. We have never had such a comprehensive document that guides all our institutions.”
The social inclusion policy framework is intended to encourage constructive dialogue on issues including admission policies of universities.
The draft framework would be published in the Government Gazette. The public was urged to send comments to the higher education department.
Nzimande said a survey found “racism and patriarchy” rife in institutions of higher learning, including universities.
“I will take this to Cabinet. I want the institutions, when they report to us, to include reports on how they are dealing with these matters. Those who are not doing enough, we will call them to account.”
Asked if the policy would not infringe on institutional autonomy, Nzimande said racism should be defeated in the same manner apartheid was combated.
“I believe in institutional autonomy, but our policy as government talks about both institutional autonomy and public accountability.
“Institutional autonomy, by the way, is not inherently progressive. You may find a university that defends its institutional autonomy in order to pursue racism, separate residences. When you intervene, it says ‘institutional autonomy’.”
He said the policy’s intention was to ensure that educational institutions recognised and promoted integration, human rights, unity in diversity, and human dignity.
“We must not allow institutional autonomy to be a refuge for political scoundrels. We must not allow anyone to use institutional autonomy in order to pursue a pervert political or social agenda.”
Exclusionary practices were having a negative impact on some students’ academic performance, he said.
Once approved, Nzimande said the framework would serve as a guide for all public educational institutions falling under his department.
He said institutions should nurture students to prepare them for a positive role in a democratic South Africa.