Construction of Sol Plaatje University Starts

Kimberley - Construction of the new Sol Plaatje University in Kimberley in the Northern Cape is expected to start before the end of September.

Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande, accompanied by senior government officials, is set to conduct a sod-turning ceremony for the construction of the new university today.

The university has been named after struggle stalwart Sol Plaatje, who resided in Kimberley. Plaatje, who was born in 1876 and died in 1932, was an activist and politician. He spent much of his life in the struggle for the enfranchisement and liberation of African people. He was an intellectual, journalist, linguist, translator and writer.

It is estimated that more than R6 billion will be spent on the project, and it is envisaged to be completed by 2015.

The university's plan was unveiled last night at the site where the university will be built. Sol Plaatje University will have campuses throughout the Northern Cape in a bid to prevent a high number of students from leaving the province to study in other provinces.

According to research conducted, most of the students who leave the province do not come back once they have completed their studies, opting to migrate to other provinces.

The university is expected to enrol about 5 000 students. About 150 students will be enrolled during the first intake at the beginning of 2014.

In 2010, Nzimande appointed a task team to investigate the feasibility of establishing new universities in South Africa.

The team, led by Professor Cheryl de la Rey, Vice Chancellor of the University of Pretoria, recommended that a new university should be built in the Northern Cape. Mpumalanga province is also earmarked to get a new university.

The task team report was submitted to the minister in September 2011 and after consultation with the Council on Higher Education, the decision was made to proceed with the establishment of the universities.

In July 2012, after an extensive assessment of the suitability of a number of towns and sites in the Northern Cape, President Jacob Zuma announced that the new university would be located in the inner city of Kimberley.

According to the Higher Education and Training Department, courses to be offered by the university will include Museum Studies, Archaeology, Indigenous Languages and Restorative Architecture.