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Stellenbosch Univ apologises, promises probe into study on coloured women

The study claimed that ‘low education levels and unhealthy lifestyle behaviours’ among coloured South African women were a contributing factor to low cognitive functioning.

Stellenbosch University. Picture: @stellenboschuniversity/Facebook.com.

CAPE TOWN - Stellenbosch University has launched an investigation into the controversial study which suggests coloured South African women have an increased risk of low cognitive function.

The report titled Age- and education-related effects on cognitive functioning in Coloured South African women, has sparked outrage.

The study found that “low education levels and unhealthy lifestyle behaviours” were a contributing factor to low cognitive functioning.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the university said it apologised unconditionally for the trauma caused by the research article.

"Stellenbosch University acknowledges the severe trauma and anger among members of the general public, Stellenbosch communities, University stakeholders and our campus community caused by the publication of an article 'Age- and education-related effects on cognitive functioning in Coloured South African women.' This article was published in an international scientific journal on normal and dysfunctional development, Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition.

"We apologise unconditionally for the pain and the anguish which resulted from this article. We also have empathy towards current and past staff members, our students and our alumni who have had to endure criticism for their association with our institution."

It added that had decided to request a thorough investigation into all aspects of this study, and based on the outcome, it would take corrective action as required.

The university’s deputy vice-chancellor Eugene Cloete says the investigation has already started.

“We will look at all the processes that were involved in this research, including the peer review system. We’ll be in contact with the journal that published the article to find out how they peer-reviewed the article.”

Stellenbosch’s experts say they can’t understand how the international journal accepted the article.

“They can’t understand how a journal could accept the article purely based on the quality of the study that was conducted.”

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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