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Project will help tackle crime

Resource type: News

Cape Times (South Africa) |

by A’EYSHA KASSIEM VIOLENT crime, a failing education system and the impact of HIV/Aids and TB are some of the “critical threats” facing South Africa, says the University of Cape Town’s newly-installed vice-chancellor Max Price. Price said he hopes to see UCT play a greater role in solving the country’s problems. Price, who was officially installed at the campus last night, wants to appoint “pro-vice-chancellors”. He says they will take up various “intellectual projects” at the university such as crime and safety and security, and whose responsibilities will include co-ordinating the university’s projects with other outside bodies such as the police. Education was also likely to be one of these special projects, he said. “(A fatal) threat is crime, particularly violent crime. We have not begun to answer the question posed by President Mbeki: ‘Why is our society so violent?’ “Should we have more jails? We do not understand how to challenge the deeply ingrained views that violence is the way to resolve conflict – views inculcated in children from birth as they grow up witnessing domestic violence around them or bullying on the school playground. We don’t seem to have a clue how to tackle the drugs problem.” Price said that with, having a pro-vice-chancellor specially focused on the issue of crime, the university would be able to “bring all its intellectual resources to bear on the problem of violent crime and the threat it poses to our survival”. With regard to the public school system, Price said it had failed the country and universities. “We cannot expand our intake of black students because of the paucity of school-leavers with the right subjects at the right level. Previously, we took the view that this was not our problem to fix. “We can no longer ignore it for it will be our downfall. (UCT), and indeed all universities, should … tackle this problem.” He said he “feared” the “increasing fragility of our fledgling democracy”. “In my view, free speech, free press, judicial independence and socio-economic rights are increasingly under threat. Debates on race and transformation are often the camouflage for these attacks.” Students were not protesting enough about issues of corruption in government or South Africa’s treatment of Zimbabwe. It was universities that had the “unique opportunity of enormous influence over the future of society” and for shaping “future leaders”. In terms of HIV/Aids and TB, Price said while UCT was making a significant contribution in terms of research, “the greatest public health disaster of our time will be our undoing if we do not make it the top priority”. He said more needed to be done in terms of outreach and caring in communities, among other things.

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AIDS, HIV, TB, University of Cape Town