A group of white students painted their faces with black polish in protest against alleged racial targeting by the Veterinary Science faculty at the University of Pretoria.
Accompanied by AfriForum Youth, the youth wing of the Afrikaans interest group AfriForum, the group of close to ten students and their parents are part of the 30 prospective students represented by the youth organisation. They were allegedly turned away by the university due to “poor academic performance”, despite having earned 190 distinctions collectively, according to AfriForum.
Speaking to the crowd, AfriForum Youth national chairman, Charl Oberholzer, said it was unfair to tell these students that the colour of your skin is a passport to opportunity. He added that the unintended consequences of selecting students on racial grounds is that these students will leave the country.
Mother of one of the students who were turned away said: “On her application my daughter had 7 distinctions and was one of the top 1% in Biological Sciences in the country. They told us that she was turned down due to her academic performance.”
“She doesn’t care whether you’re black or white, pink or blue. If you’ve got the marks and you’ve worked hard for it, you should be able to get into that category,” she said.
Another student present at the protest, Emma van Heerden, labeled her situation as unfair saying: “This affected my life on a big basis because I’m so unsure about the future now. I’m just very angry about all of this.”
Solutions proposed to the Minister of Higher Education by AfriForum are as follows:
* Racial classification must be stopped, ensuring that all races are treated equally.
* More students must gain entrance to veterinary science through the most competitive category, namely the ‘open category’, to afford top achievers a better chance to be accepted.
* More admissions should be considered for the category of students who have already registered for a BSc course, thereby giving the high-achieving matriculants of 2010 and 2011 a better chance of gaining entrance.
* An independent body must be appointed to evaluate the current process of admission and the merit of applicants who were turned away.
AfriForum Youth said they will continue in their protest actions that will include going to UNESCO, the international body for education.