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GBV clampdown at tertiary institutions

Written by More Matshediso

The Department of Higher Education is finalising the Policy Framework on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the Post-School Education and Training System. 

This is according to Minister Blade Nzimande, who said the policy framework is expected to be published by end of March 2020 for implementation. 

The policy framework was developed following the appointment of a Ministerial Task Team to advise on matters relating to sexual harassment and GBV in public universities in South Africa.

The task team was appointed after an open letter written by a group of academics to the former minister of the department in March 2019. The letter highlighted issues of GBV, including sexual harassment.

Among the issues that were raised by academics were the tendency by lecturers, especially male lecturers, to ask for sexual favours from students in exchange for marks; and young female academics who are harassed by senior leadership in universities in exchange for job security.

Academics recommended, among other things, that a special investigation be conducted into the extent of sexual offences directed at both staff and students in the higher education sector; that a register of offenders be published on the department’s website for all higher education institutions to access before posts are offered to new staff members; and that a charter of ethics be established and signed by all staff and students who assume positions of leadership in higher education institutions.

Minister Nzimande said the task team will advise him on the implementation of the policy framework within the university sector, focusing on institutional policy alignment and initiatives to address GBV in universities.

“The department is also working closely with Universities South Africa to address urgent safety and security concerns on university campuses to ensure that students and staff in our universities are safe from all forms of violence,” he said.