Ngcukaitobi, the brand new sheriff at Walter Sisulu College

Tembeka Ngcukaitobi’s title is synonymous with being the most effective authorized minds in South Africa. He enjoys a profitable, busy profession as an advocate. Why then would he be bothered by the affairs of his alma mater, an establishment that he left greater than 20 years in the past? 

Ngcukaitobi graduated with a regulation diploma from the University of Transkei (Unitra), now Walter Sisulu University, in 1999. In 1997 he was the president of the scholar consultant council (SRC). 

He mentioned after he left he didn’t hassle about what was taking place on the college. It was solely when the establishment began losing accreditation for a few of its — together with the LLB diploma — that Ngcukaitobi began following affairs of his alma mater with curiosity. 

“I believed, truly, the tendency of former graduates not to concentrate to their former universities might threaten the validity of their ,” he says “So I grew to become excited about what was taking place, however at the moment I didn’t stand for any place however was a part of the actions of the alumni affiliation.”

In 2017, the Council for Higher Education stopped the college from providing regulation levels when, in its evaluation, it had discovered that the college had under-qualified lecturers and its lecturer halls weren’t appropriate to be used. The council re-accredited the qualification in 2019 after the establishment had glad it that it had met the required requirements. 

In June 2019, there was an election for brand new leaders of the convocation and he accepted nomination to turn out to be the president and was elected. “I used to be glad to simply accept the nomination as a result of not less than it might give me a possibility to play a task inside moderately than as an exterior observer,” he says. 

He doesn’t see it as giving again, as a result of individuals who have graduated from previously disadvantaged universities don’t have that “luxurious”. 

“The very fact of the matter is that if it was not for a college like Unitra, on the time, many people would merely haven’t obtained a college schooling in any respect, both as a result of we’d not qualify academically or we’d merely not be capable of afford charges,” he says. “So if you wish to maintain accessibility of upper schooling within the former Bantustans then you must preserve a useful college even when the main target of that college is educating and never essentially analysis.”

For him, not having a useful Walter Sisulu College implies that college students who can’t go to the prosperous universities are disadvantaged of an opportunity to get a better schooling.

“The reality is that on this nation and not using a primary diploma your prospects in life are moderately bleak. So I don’t see myself as giving again, I see myself discharging a duty of being a graduate from a black college.”

Because the president he may assess the difficulties dealing with the college. He lists three that stood out.

One of many issues, which he says is structural, is how the college has struggled to shift from being an establishment created to serve a Bantustan civil service to turn out to be a contemporary developmental college. He says the merger between Unitra, Border Technikon and Jap Cape Technikon to type Walter Sisulu College additionally difficult issues. 

“So combining these two issues has actually been a structural drawback for a way the college will mannequin itself in a improvement setting.”

Ngcukaitobi says the division of upper schooling’s funding system is “largely biased in opposition to black universities”, as a result of most of those establishments usually are not analysis intensive. The division would possibly argue that there are grants focused at beforehand deprived universities, however he believes that’s no match for the funding that universities that produce analysis obtain. The funding system must be considerably revised, based on Ngcukaitobi. 

The third drawback was: “On the inner facet you might have an issue of poor management, poor monetary administration, an issue of lack of imaginative and prescient, lack of course, poor of lecturers and in addition poorly ready college students.” 

One of many issues that shocked him was the poor state of student residences, describing them as “slum circumstances”. (New residences at the moment are being constructed.) 

He says greater than 60% of lecturers don’t have a masters and the curriculum isn’t aligned to the wants of the nation. “Individuals are nonetheless being taught about cheques; cheques have been discontinued for years …”

However there’s a new sheriff on the town and the college is about to be shaken up. Not solely was Ngcukaitobi appointed the chairperson of council — the very best decision-making physique — in December, however the college additionally has a brand new vice-chancellor in Professor Rushiella Nolundi Songca, who took over the reins from Professor Rob Midgley this month. 

“It is extremely thrilling. New vice-chancellor, new chair of council. It’s actually an thrilling second to look at the progress of the college and in addition do one thing about it,” says Ngcukaitobi. 

He says he’s nicely conscious that among the difficulties the college faces may not be resolved now — particularly the structural ones — however a part of the rationale he agreed to face for the place was he agreed with those that mentioned the college wanted power, management and imaginative and prescient. 

One of many issues he hopes to do in his tenure because the chair of council is to make it possible for the methods of the college work. 

“It’s a very modest purpose however very essential for a spot like Walter Sisulu College as a way to guarantee it runs easily.”

Ngcukaitobi says that as a result of many of the methods on the college don’t run nicely he’s discovering himself, as council chair, having to take care of mundane points that he shouldn’t must take care of at his degree. 

“I used to be entertaining a problem from Sasco [South African Students Congress] the opposite day in Mthatha, in regards to the allocation of seats [in the SRC], and the issue was that administration was not permitting them to have a gathering. 

“So in a distinct place like UCT [University of Cape Town] there are methods; these issues don’t go to the chairperson of council. However I don’t have the luxurious of refusing to entertain them on the idea that they belong to a decrease degree, as a result of we’re fixing the deep-seated structural issues, and that’s the reason I need to place emphasis on getting the methods to run with out the intervention of managers and with out the intervention of management.”

One other one in all his targets is to cease the corruption the place employees or members of council are discovered to have enterprise pursuits with the college. 

“We have to make it possible for the cash of the college is spent on what it needs to be spent on and isn’t stolen.”