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Parliament, Monday, 6 May 2019 – The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training has called on the research community at universities to be sensitive in how they carry out academic research.

Chairperson Ms Connie September said the committee was dismayed with findings of academics based at the University of Stellenbosch, as contained in an article published in the Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition journal.

The article, titled: “Age and education-related effects n cognitive functioning in Colored South African women”, has since been retracted by the publisher, a position its authors agreed to.

The article drew widespread condemnation for concluding that coloured women were less intelligent as a result of their lifestyle choices.

“The committee was dismayed by such generalisation, and unwarranted attack on an unsuspecting group of women. The article set the work of uniting our nation a few years back, by endorsing such stereotypical observations,” Ms September said.

“The work of research from such reputable institutions as the University of Stellenbosch should be to contribute to knowledge and enhance ourselves as human beings. The article had elements of laziness, especially that it only surveyed 60 coloured women, and should never have been published.”

Ms September said cognitive ability and intelligence are not just things you can easily measure or generalise about. “If you do, understandably, there will be a backlash.”

Ms September, who grew up in the same community, was appalled that the target group is too much up for frequent negativity, something which must stop.

She said academic research should strive to contribute towards the advancement of society, and that she had communicated her dissatisfaction to the Vice-Chancellor. When the investigation into the matter is concluded, the Vice-Chancellor should apologise to the women used as a sample of the research.

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING, MS CONNIE SEPTEMBER.

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