July 31, 2012

University of South Africa Opens Ombuds Office

Unisa, the largest university on the African continent, has appointed Harry Nengwekhulu as its first Ombudsman. The independent Office of the Ombudsman "deals with administrative and managerial fairness complaints from students, staff and anybody outside who has been affected by the actions and decisions of Unisa" and is open to students, staff (both academic and non-academic), and members of the public.

In a press release, Nengwekhulu stressed the confidentiality of his work, but explained that certain issues are outside the scope of his office, including...
Labour and employment related matters, the conduct or decisions of the university council and its committees, the university senate and its committees or the institutional forum and its committees, a matter of academic judgement and a complaint which is patently or vexatious. But, otherwise, the Ombudsman will handle academic issues if they deal with unfair marking, the lack of marking of scripts or similar.
Nengwekhulu formed the South African Students Organization with Steven Biko in July 1968 and was a leading anti-apartheid activist for the next two decades. After South Africa held democratic elections in 1994, Negwekhulu served in the government. He was appointed as the Acting Superintendent-General of the Eastern Cape Department of Education. He was awarded the Outstanding Educator in South Africa award by Unisa, which has a student headcount of over 300,000 students.  (Unisa Press Release, Ombuds Office; SA History Online.)

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