Zuma wants young black academics to replace retiring whites

Wits_University_Great_HallMore young black graduates are needed to fill academic posts at universities, President Jacob Zuma said on Monday.

“… We want to attract more young black graduates into academic careers,” he said in a speech prepared for delivery at the Gauteng Manifesto Forum at the University of the Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg.

“Our research indicates that one fifth of our university academics will retire within a decade, of which 32 percent are professors, meaning most experienced academics will be leaving the field.”

There were only limited numbers of younger researchers entering academia to replace those leaving.

The government was prioritising investment in education and skills development to help boost youth employment.

“The National Development Plan envisages an increase in higher education enrolments from 17.9 percent in 2012 to 25 percent by 2030.

“Indeed, our young people are hungry for education,” Zuma said.

In the past 10 years, the number of enrolments had grown by more than half.

Two new universities were being built in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape in response to the demand for education.

“Our economy has expanded, more opportunities are becoming available for all,” he said.

Since 1994, total employment had increased by more than 3.5 million

In mining and industry, the average real wages had increased by more than 150 percent, also since 1994.

“While income inequality remains high, the expansion of our social grants system has contributed to a reduction in the proportion of households living in poverty,” said Zuma.

There had also been progress in transformation of ownership and the management of the economy.

“To date, over R600 billion in Black Economic Empowerment transactions have been recorded since 1995,” he said.

Black people and women in senior management positions had increased from less than 10 percent in the 1990s to over 40 percent.

“More progress is needed, but the trend is in the right direction.”

While the global economic meltdown had affected the economy considerably since 2009, the resilience of South Africa’s banking sector had shielded the economy to some extent.

On the issue of e-tolling, Zuma said: “The roads are to be tolled to pay back the money we borrowed to build the freeways.

“… It is not fair to make the whole of South Africa pay for Gauteng’s road use by taxing everyone’s petrol more or put more burden on the already strained fiscus.”

On October 9, the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein dismissed the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance’s (Outa) challenge to the e-tolling of Gauteng’s freeways.

On Friday, Outa announced that it would abandon its legal battle as it had insufficient funds.

“We still owe our lawyers R1.8 million and it will cost R1.5m to continue. We realised that we are out of money,” Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage said at the time. – Sapa