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Department of Higher Education launches the 2021 State of the Nation book

A silhouette of a group of boys waving the South African flag.

This year’s State of the Nation edition is titled Ethics, Politics, Inequality: New Directions. Picture: Reuters.

Published Jul 20, 2021


Durban - Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Buti Manamela has launched the 2021 edition of the State of the Nation, a flagship publication of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).

This year’s edition is titled Ethics, Politics, Inequality: New Directions, and is a timely publication in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic and the recent events in South Africa that have brought to the fore the deep inequalities and levels of poverty.

According to the lead editor of this volume, Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller, the book was written before the pandemic and its context has become clear and relevant during the pandemic.

The latest volume will help South Africans think through and navigate the ‘new normal’ in which we find ourselves in, with the focus on unavoidable political and socio-economic consequences and interventions required. It also provides deep insights to stimulate rethinking and reimagining changes that prioritise how we live, interact and engage with one another and the government.

The insights help South Africans to consider a more ethical and caring way of life in response to the harsh realities of poverty and inequality in South Africa.

One of the four panellists present, Dr Mabel Sithole, said the pandemic has tested leaders in every sphere of society and their resilience, compassion and decision-making had been and continued to be under the spotlight.

“South Africa, like no other moment in its democratic dispensation, is confronted with ethical and policy dilemmas which have tested the strength of our institutions. From health care to education, and the recent wave of looting and unrest, the country is gasping for air.”

The 2021 publication is the 10th edition and was edited by Professor Crain Soudien, former chief executive of the HSRC; Professor Vasu Reddy, dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria; and Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller, head of the HSRC’s Developmental, Capable and Ethical State (DCES) division.

The HSRC was established in 1968 as South Africa’s statutory research agency and has grown to become the largest dedicated research institute in the social sciences and humanities on the African continent. The council provides cutting-edge public research in areas that are crucial to development.