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Stellenbosch University 'deeply regrets' allowing study on coloured women

The study found that coloured South African women have an increased risk of low cognitive function. Low education levels and unhealthy lifestyle behaviours were seen to be contributing factors.

Stellenbosch University. Picture: Facebook.com

CAPE TOWN - The Stellenbosch University said that the coloured community was right to feel that their dignity was compromised by a controversial study.

The study, titled Age- and education-related effects on cognitive functioning in Coloured South African women, found that coloured South African women have an increased risk of low cognitive function. Low education levels and unhealthy lifestyle behaviours were seen to be contributing factors.

The university’s deputy vice-chancellor Eugene Cloete said that the institution regretted the study.

“For us, human dignity is the number one priority in research. In this particular case, the community was right for feeling that their dignity was comprised.”

The university has launched an investigation into the study which was published by an international journal.

A petition was launched following the release of the report. UCT Professor Barbara Boswell is part of a group that wrote an open letter and launched a petition following the report. They called on Stellenbosch University to retract it. Boswell spoke to CapeTalk last week and said she was gobsmacked.

“I was shocked to see this kind of tone, the language and the idea of coloured as a homogenous group. With every sentence as I started reading from the title to the abstract, my jaw dropped further and further to the ground. I find it really difficult and I know we’re in different disciplines in the academy, but that some people could construct this using colonial and apartheid science.”

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the university "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.”

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