Diversity, Institutional Transformation and 'Minority Groups': Reflections on the Dilemmas Faced by Higher Education Institutions

Mr. Jantjie Xaba,
Mr. Lesala L. Mofokeng
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The role of institutions in promoting diversity has come under review since 1994. Recognising these racial divisions, the country has passed a constitution that promotes diversity as a characteristic of the new South Africa, to bridge the racial gaps and create what Desmond Tutu astutely described as the "rainbow nation". The paper considers the role of state in promoting diversity legislative transformation and the argument of minority groups towards the right to self-determination and diversity at higher education institutions. Several approaches to understanding diversity are reviewed i.e., universalist, communitarian and multiculturalists approaches. Universalist seeks to establish one cultural group's norms and values as universal values, while communitarians emphasize group rights and multiculturalists stress cultural difference. In South Africa diversity has been conceptualised as a model for transition from universalist (colonial and apartheid values) to promoting multiculturalism (that reflects existing realities in South Africa) while opposing communitarians. Yet, the biggest problem is the crisis of domination between the majorities versus minority groups as groups struggle to define common reality. Thus, the authors argue that changes in governments are insufficient to achieve multiculturalism if such changes are not followed by socio-economic transformation of existing inequalities and promotion of social justice. The latter involves legislative pieces aimed at redressing the imbalances between social groups and using government institutions as levers for bargaining between the strong and weak groups. The paper examines the dilemma faced by academics and students at higher education, the role of language policies in promoting diversity and offers a theoretical framework for understanding diversity. The current model of diversity at higher education is based on demands of globalisation and the interests of racial and elite groups hence the authors recommend state intervention to prevent conflict and competition, transform existing divisions, and promote access and equality.

Keywords: Diversity, Multiculturalism, Multilingualism, University, Institutional culture, Transformation, Community, Language policy, Afrikaans, Identity, Students
Stream: Learning, Education, Training
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Diversity, Institutional Transformation and 'Minority Groups'

Mr. Jantjie Xaba

Junior lecturer, Sociology and Social Anthropology, University of Stellenbosch
South Africa

Jantjie Xaba BA, BA Hons (Industrial Sociology) and MA (Comparative Labour Studies) obtained at Rand Afrikaans University. Jantjie completed his first degree at Vista university (Vaal campus) in 1998. While pursuing his MA, he worked at the Gauteng Legislature as a research intern, then became a researcher for a Trade Union Research Project based at Natal University. Jantjie Xaba is currently teaching at University of Stellenbosch. His interests includes labour and work organization, sociology of workplace restructuring and globalization, social movements, demography and ecology, culture and social theory. Amongst his published work, Jantjie published the following: Book 'South Africa in the Global Economy: Understanding the challenges, working towards alternatives'. 2002. First edition written by Isaacs, S. 1997. Trade Union Research Project, Centre for Industrial, Organisational and Labour Studies, University of Natal, Durban. Dissertation Xaba, J N (2004). Employee Assistance Programme and Retrenchments: A South African Case Study. MA dissertation, Rand Afrikaans University. Articles Xaba, J. Employee Assistance Programme: A South African Case Study. South African Journal of Industrial Relations: forthcoming. Phillips G. and Xaba JN (2002). The Workers' Story: Labour rights violations at Hudson's Bay supply factories in Lesotho. Published by Ethical Trading Action Group. Canada. Official reports: Horn P. Xaba JN. and Motala, S (2001). The Informal sector in Sub-Saharan Africa (excluding the Francophone West Africa) in ILO Decent Work and the Informal Economy. Employment Sector, International Labour Organization. Geneva.

Mr. Lesala L. Mofokeng

Lecturer, School of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal
South Africa

Lesala Lucas Mofokeng BA, LLB, Certificate in Legal Practice (LSSA), LLM (Georgetown, USA). Advocate of the High Court of South Africa. Lesala Mofokeng completed his BA, LLB at the University of Natal-Durban in 1997. While pursuing his studies towards the LLM (Human Rights and Constitutional Litigation) degree at the same university, he also worked in the Department of Procedural Law as a graduate assistant. He was appointed as a junior lecturer in 1999 and in the same year, he won a scholarship to further his studies in Washington, D. C. USA, at Georgetown University Law Centre, where completed his LLM degree. He appeared on several radio news broadcasts on issues of Human rights and African law and legal diversity. Lesala Mofokeng is currently teaching at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa and his research interests include legal pluralism, legal philosophy, human rights law, business law, and international law. Mofokeng is also working as the Senior Residence Life Officer. He is responsible for duties such as to educate, support, and inform undergraduate and postgraduate residence students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In the past five past five years, he was involved in the development of educational, social, cultural and spiritual programs aimed at providing comfortable, safe and stable environments within which students from all backgrounds can confront the challenges of personal and intellectual development.

Ref: D05P0229