Tag Archives: Transformation

Scholarly publishing as a transformation issue in South Africa

With the Higher Education Transformation Summit taking place in Cape Town on 22 April, universities have been in a reflective phase, examining their success – or lack of it – in achieving post-apartheid transformation. The report card shows that we are achieving a great deal, but could try harder. There is still a way to go before all our students and academics feel they are in institutions that are really their home.
No-one seems to have noticed the elephant in the room. In all the discussions, I see very little attention being paid to the role that scholarly communication and publication plays in the transformation process. We talk about the demographic profiles of our universities, yet we do not seem to question the communication environment that students and staff are immersed in and the values that are reflected there.
Why is it, for example, that, as the South African Minister of Higher Education and Training , Blade Nzimande, complained at the UNESCO 29th World Conference on Higher Education that ‘there is a gender imbalance throughout higher education systems especially in leadership positions.’ in his keynote address at the Transformation Summit, he picked up on the fact that the average age of academics continues to rise and that there has been a drop in the number of staff under the age of 30? Does the publishing system that is so central in determining who is promoted and rewarded play a role in these demographics? Is this an alien environment for the young scholars that the universities want so badly to attract? Do students and researchers find their own, African, world reflected adequately in the scholarly resources that they have access to? Are the values that our researchers hold reflected in the ways in which they are supported in publishing their research? Continue reading