Extended Studies: the little big black box?

By Stacy Moreland 

Rhodes students are quick to run for the nearest politically-correct fence at the mere mention of race. But if you mention the words “blacks only”, some feel it is safe to become righteously indignant and close in for the kill.

On its website, Rhodes’ Extended Studies Unit’s public communication describes the unit as designed for
those students who have the potential to study at tertiary level, but come from an educationally underprepared and disadvantaged background. The only red flag is that the unit has only managed to attract black students.

“I asked why there are no white people,” says Cordelia Monnapula, a first year currently in  the programme, and “This girl turned around to me and said, ‘So what? Now you want to be with those white people?’”

While no student doubts the university’s good intentions, being captioned and bracketed as ‘one thing’ while white students are ‘another thing’ elicits an emotional response. These emotions are more concrete for some than the quotas and statistics controlling transformation. Extended Studies is the means towards an end that is transformation, but does it heighten the racial divide more than it bridges it? The good it does in one sphere may appear to be eclipsed by the negative attitudes and self-doubt it produces in another.

Tembisa Cima, a third year student who went through the Extended Studies Programme, says, “It does affect our attitudes towards ourselves [as black  individuals] because you can’t help but feel alienated from the whole Rhodes education system. You are treated different and exceptions are made when it
comes to you. You can’t help but feel patronised.”

The many complex issues provided by our country’s huge disparities in wealth, resources and opportunity are waiting to ambush education at every turn. It is not surprising that attempts to address the rifts between the haves and have-nots at a tertiary level are just as complicated.

Professor Pumla Gqola from the University of the Witwatersrand, in her World Press Freedom Day address at Rhodes, said: “In institutions which are openly hostile, the necessity for safe spaces is unquestionable.”

Second year Dumisani Budaza, a former Extended Studies student and now a mentor in the programme,
would agree: “I am not saying I get firsts and seconds but it has paid off so far; I can see myself graduating and even going further.”

Judith Reynolds, co-ordinator of Extended Studies for Humanities said “It’s extremely complicated trying to measure success – the fact that there are people on the campus who did not meet the entrance requirements, but who are still here and passing in their second or third year, is a kind of success.”

Budaza says the programme is “more than just about adapting, but mostly building relationships, exposure and attitude.” Some students wonder whether the unit is a solution to inequalities or a problem that is causing division amongst students.

It would be easy to become critical of the university’s attemps, but adressing the past is not a simple task and criticism cannot be overly eager.

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18 Responses to Extended Studies: the little big black box?

  1. is it Dumisani or Mzoxolo Budaza who is a mentor? confused because Dumisani is not a mentor according to my understanding. I think Mzoxolo Budaza is a mentor not Dumisani, try to get your facts right. Remember last week you published something about Mkateko as a Xhosa speaker, this edition Dumisani as a mentor of which Mzoxolo (his brother) is a mentor. O! please good people, why??

  2. Activate is loosing the battle.Oppie press is overtaking this crap paper.They misspell people’s names and sometimes they get them completely wrong.Last year activate was my favourite paper but this year i characterise it as a sinking titanic

  3. Kunjalo says:

    Guys can you please just get your facts right. I am not please about what you are doing. I will sugest that next week when you are realising activate you donnt do any mistakes. to be honest with you guys the paper this year is just doing baaaaddd!! Dumisani is not a mentor in the program. I do not know who is a mentor and think that is your job to find out not me!!

  4. Mzo says:

    Hey Qaqa mf’ethu I don’t know whether Budaza junior (Dumisani) is a mentor or not. But what I know is that he was asked questions by Stacy and he responded.

  5. Mbulelo says:

    Guys it seems as Activate is behind the so cold “black English second language speakers”, it is clear for me that this article is a follow up to “Not my mother tongue” article. I think they have decided to cover up this article in order to balance things. Firstly, “But does it heighten the racial divide more than it bridges it? You can’t just run into conclusion or asking this type of questions after interviewing one person. For instance, if one person commits crime because hunger, does this mean that all people who commit crime because of hunger? I mean if they were interested in finding out why did the programme attract blacks only, they should have interviewed people who are responsible for the admissions. The word “blacks only” I suspect that is a replacement for “we barely know English” as there was a lot of comments about that article. So in order to defend themselves they ran another article which is now blaming the attitude of black students and extended studies “read the first quote and first line of the article if you disagree with me”. But note this is my opinion. It makes me wonder if Activate is for Humanities students only, because no opinions from other faculties.

  6. ruactivate says:

    Just to clear this up, we had planned to run the Extended Studies article for some time before “Not my mother’s tongue” was published. The Extended Studies article was never intended to be a follow up for “Not my mother’s tongue”.

  7. Mkateko says:

    What were you waiting for to publish or run the article earlier ? Besides that I can’t just find the focus or link of ideas. As an ex-victim of Extended studies programme, students are not just doing Extended studies subjects only, they also do mainstream subjects, when doing so, they meet white students as well. The programme is not isolated (or found in the karoo) so we (as a black students) we socialise and do assignments with whites as well. I agree with Mbulelo’s opinion. The negative quote was used in the beginning to just promote the stereotypes about the Extended Studies students.

  8. hlawulani (section editor) says:

    hi

    there has been some less than friendly comments on the extended studies story and the piece on second langauge speakers. all the facts on the sources were checked…then double checked, so the issue seems not to be with the credibility of the sources but the nature of the subject matter.

    the intent of the two pieces was not to offend and i think its cool that people can write about things they take issue with in the paper. however, the pertinence of the two stories can not be ignored. it would be doing the paper a disservice to pretend that these issues are not connected, or that they do not exist. debate on culture, race and education needs to be frank and one needs to constantly interogate the political environment at the university.

    glad people are reading the section and reacting critically to what they read.

  9. Mzo says:

    Hlawulani, I still have a problem with the sources used in the second language story. The reporter “interviewed” three people, her African Affairs colleague (Luzuko), her politics 1 classmate (Mkateko) and someone she shares the same surname with (Roy). One cannot help, but be sceptical of this story because she seemed to interview people she know. Mkateko and Luzuko’s views (whether they are manipulated or not) do not reflect the views of other “Third World English speakers” on campus. I mean, she should have interviewed more third world English speakers, including Afrikaans speakers. You also say all the facts on the sources were checked, yet your reporter said Mkateko has to translate things into isiXhosa while he is in fact Shangaan (Mkateko himself denied ever saying that).

    To be honest, I still suspect there was something negative behind the second language story. I don’t know what you (as the African Affairs editor) hoped to achieve by publishing that story, because stories that are based on assumptions (I say this because your reporter clearly assumed that her sources will be happy to see their names on paper even if they were “doctored”) create divisions more than they unite people. In short, I found that story to be an insult to us “Third World English” Speakers. Fortunately, this is not England (Rhodes University may look like one of those English towns, but it is eRhini)- we do not need to be masters of English in order to survive.

  10. anonymous says:

    Great, Mzo. But being a reporter is a risky business, people say things, other people get aggravated. However, in terms of activate is all about reading the philosophy of one family, by this I mean that all activate staff are one way or another close or related to each other, as a result they share same perceptions about otherness (black third world speakers). If you disagree with me check how many articles is written by Bianca Silver, the new Oppi columnists Galanis and also section editors have no editorial independence.

  11. The man says:

    Well, well, well… Mzo you seem to be enjoying the attention that you have been getting from commenting. In case readers have amnesia, Mzo is the same guy who got the head start of his career at Activate, the same newspaper that he now thinks its rubbish (how ungrateful).

    But I for one understand Mzo’s wrath. Who wouldn’t be furious if the section that he wanted to be editor of was given to someone else. If you did not know people, Mzo wanted to be editor of African Affairs; it’s no wonder why he keeps commenting on AA. Even the previous AA editor Adrian Nel promised to give him the editorship but instead Hlawu won it.

  12. Mkhava says:

    The man you seem to be trying to censor this guy. as a reader mzo has the right to comment in any section of the paper. as far as i know the guy’s frustration is with the insult on third world english speakers. To say he comments on AA only is misleading, i have read his comments on other sections, example, the one where he said marijuana should be legalised. mzo also knows that he is a third world english speaker and he stands not chance of being the editor of any section, how do you expect first world english speakers to be edited by a third world. so, the man come with valid reasons why you try to censor this guy. in addition, what’s you real name? (i suspect you are the guy who swore to get him after that night you know ekasi).

  13. Anonymous. says:

    Hoops!!! If this is how Activate staff defends their weaknesses, I commenting on behalf of Activate victims we agree that we got defeated. But nepotism that characterise Activate one day will end like what happened to apartheid era. For instance, there were blacks who were sell outs; this is mostly the same as what is happening on Activate. Activate employ black students in order to get information about us (blacks) and at the end of the day they claim they have got diversity and principles to follow. If you disagree look at how Mzo got attacked by black students, including AA sub-editor. I was wondering why one of first year students accused you of racism. Don’t get me too far, but I’m just worried about the way things are being handled by Activate. This led me to wrap up by saying Activate is a political party as Puyol said and it is not addressing the national problem that is why it is always being attacked.

    Please do not remove my comments as I want to share this with my fellow comrades. “Furious”

  14. James says:

    This is interesting. Adrian Nel is also implicated in the Mzoxolo Scandal, hhh… nice. Its no wonder Mzo always lashes out to every story on Activate, I feel for you Mzo. What Adrian did to you is like getting a girlfriend today and get dumped tomorrow. Shame, poor Mzo.

  15. Anon says:

    Guys stop being used or being stupid, obviously this person who observes about Mzo’s comment know his where abouts, I mean he is a close friend of him that is why he knows everything about him. But the head of the matter is even if Mzo got disappointed how are your comments significant to the section as whole or particularly the articles. I also read this section’s comments and from what I have seen, Mzo is not the only person who comments a lot, there are other Xhosa speaking people as well. It is annoying and revolting if someone who knows Mzo keeps on damaging his reputation. By this I mean people won’t read Mzo’s comments because of the attacks that are being lodged by his fellow comrades. Maybe Hlawu as a section editor you are the one who buys people to attack Mzo.

    My request is that, people stop attacking individuals and comments on the articles. If Mzo is your foe tell him rather than making him look like a moron in public.

  16. annonymous says:

    The above comment is unique it is definetly from a unique person. Mkateko bro you have gained publicity from the article ” its not my mother’s tongue”. I thought you were attacking activate for misquoting you and for that bad story but it seems as if you are attacking it to gain publicity. In the last issue a whole page was dedicated to you, but the way I see it you want the whole paper in the next issue. How can that be possible?

    What are you saying people? cause to me it seems like you are saying that activate should not publish stories that are about blacks. It seems like you are missing the point here, cause activate is a student newspaper. it must report issues concerning every student, race and gender.

  17. Jeff says:

    anonymous comments should be censored. Because cowards use this opportunity to attack other people and the paper. Some people use constructive citicism backed by reasons, while these anons and pseudonyms keep on using sweeping statements and allegations. So I admire those readers who are courageous enough to write their names.

  18. Adrian Nel says:

    if anybody should happen to read this, despite it comming to my very very late attention, i would like to state that as the previous AA editor of activate, i patently never made a promise of the position to any member of my team. I encouraged my members to apply but did so in a general fashion and had nothing whatsoever to do withthe selection process, which is by merit only. In this regard the allegations that Mzo (who was a dedicated and valuable member of my team) was promised the position are completely unfounded.

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