The Faculty of Health Sciences is actively committed to transformation.
We believe that the University’s and specifically our Faculty’s student and staff complement must more closely reflect the demographics of the population of our country. Our curriculum and research must address our collective heritage, environment, and developmental needs, in a manner that prioritises indigenous knowledge and issues of local relevance. Our institutional culture must celebrate our rich history, diversity, and talent in an affirming and inclusive manner, by respecting and dignifying our staff and students, and in particular, those who have been, and continue to be, marginalised. And, our environment should be representative, welcoming and accommodating to allow the co-construction of a space within which we can all find a sense of belonging and fulfilment.
Transformation is one of three Key Strategic Streams underpinning the FHS Strategic Plan ‘Vision 2030’:
- Transformation should encompass all our activities.
- Transformation of our faculty to reflect non-racialism and non-sexism.
- Combat discrimination in all spheres, including patriarchy to promote social cohesion as well as foster an enabling environment.
- Transform what we do in terms of teaching, research, and service to be aligned with the needs of our country.
- Transform what we do in terms of the University’s Afropolitan vision.
The Impetus and History of Transformation in the FHS
As South Africa emerged from decades of systematic racial discrimination, institutions in the health sector, and particularly those involved in higher education, have grappled with how transformation should best be effected, and the role human rights awareness should play in such transformation.
Testimonies to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)
The TRC Special Hearings on the Health Sector in June 1997 revealed that staff and students had experienced discrimination because of the institutional culture. In response, the Faculty Reconciliation Process (1998 to 2005) aimed at facilitating the adoption of programmes to address the institutional culture of the Faculty. A set of research projects were commissioned to understand what happened at UCT during apartheid to identify current obstacles for black staff and students, and women that continue to create barriers to their full participation in the Faculty.
The research findings provided the basis for the Adoption of a Faculty Charter that encapsulate principles for developing a culture of human rights based on respect for human dignity and non-discrimination.
The Charter was formally adopted at a Special Faculty Assembly in May 2002. In addition, the Faculty developed and launched a Declaration to replace the traditional oath taken by health sciences' students at the completion of their studies. The new declaration, developed by a multidisciplinary Faculty committee including both staff and students, reflects values the Faculty views as core to its graduates, including principles of non-discrimination, and respect for human dignity and rights. Furthermore, in its current transformation of the undergraduate medical education curriculum, the Faculty has committed itself to incorporating human rights, ethics and the lessons derived from the painful self-examination of black students' experiences at UCT at all levels of the teaching programme.
FHS Transformation Framework
Following the adoption of the Faculty Charter in 2002 and building on the development of the FHS Strategic Plan - Vision 2030 in 2015, the Faculty Transformation and Equity Committee (F-TEC) drafted the first Transformation Framework Document, which was adopted in October 2016.
The current version of the Framework, adopted on the 16th of June 2020, aligns itself with the transformation goals of the University of Cape Town and provides a values-based and practical resource for research units, divisions, departments, and institutes within the Faculty, to guide activities and initiatives that further the transformation agenda.