UCT vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng is initiating a staff inclusivity survey. Leon Lestrade African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Despite UCT’s commission for Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation being established to probe racism and transformation, vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng is initiating a staff inclusivity survey.

Phakeng said the hard reality was that this did not happen spontaneously, especially in an environment that brought together people representing so many different backgrounds, cultures, sexual identities, languages and experiences.

“It is also easy to feel isolated under stressful conditions such as we have experienced since 2015,” said Phakeng.

She said many discussions about racism across South Africa and within UCT helped to bring into focus the kinds of questions and issues that had been raised by the Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission (IRTC) report, “questions that I think may be in everybody’s mind, whether we discuss them openly or not. These public discussions also emphasise the need for us, as UCT leaders, to bring about active change to help everyone to feel included, respected and valued,” said Phakeng.

“We selected the Inclusion Index survey because it has a strong track record in academic institutions. It has been deployed to more than 50000 people globally over the past 15 years.

“It has been validated by the University of Hertfordshire in the UK. Its validity and reliability have been verified by significant testing and retesting,” she said.

Phakeng said the survey consisted of 73 items and could be completed in about 20-30 minutes.

As well as generating an overall organisational picture, the survey can run specific reports across various demographic groups.

The IRTC released its 92-page report in March. It began its work in February last year, following the negotiated agreement between UCT’s executive, its students representative council and other student organisations that took part in the protests which unfolded at UCT, including the #RhodesMustFall, #FeesMustFall and Shackville protests throughout 2015 and 2016.

The commission was mandated to look into institutional culture and practices, including issues of decolonisation, transformation, unjust discrimination and amnesty for students.

The deputy chairperson of UCT’s Association of Black Alumni, Peter-Paul Mbele, said the proposed measures to promote inclusivity would always be supported by the association. He said they sought to bring life and meaning to the sentiments carried in the Transformation Report of 2018, as led so progressively by Phakeng.

“The report speaks to such elements as recruitment, promotion and development of black staff at the university, which are all important in changing for the good the practice of transformative teaching at UCT. Transformation may be a journey, but like every journey, the destination must be clear and known to all. The implementation of these sound recommendations is long overdue,” Mbele said.

Phakeng said they had created a web page for the survey that would include links to communications about it. The anonymous survey would run from May 20 to June 14. Participants could answer online or on paper, in English, Afrikaans or isiXhosa.

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