Student news wrap 29/01/19

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A warm welcome back to all our readers as the academic year kicks off.

FeesMustFall activist under correctional supervision

After pleading guilty to charges of public violence last year, Bonginkosi Khanyile appeared in the Durban Regional Court on Monday (January 28). He received a R5 000 fine while being placed under correctional supervision for his part in a violent #FeesMustFall protest in 2016. The correctional supervision includes house arrest and eight hours of community service a month. During the protest the EFF student leader used a slingshot to hurl rocks at police. – You can read more on the IOL site

Students accused in Kenyan terror attack

Investigations into a terror attack in Nairobi have found that students and recent graduates were involved in organising and financing the attack that left 21 people dead on January 15. Militant group al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility and it is believed that it is targeting students as new recruits.

University of Nairobi senior lecturer of communication studies Dr Elias Mokua confirmed to University World News that students and recent graduates were being targeted by militant groups as they were seeking intellectuals to help strategise and advance their cause.

He said the groups relied on political ideology and marginalisation of certain groups to attract people to their cause, together with the promise of economic reward. To counter this, Mokua suggested that Kenya’s universities should introduce “critical thinking programmes” so that students would be less easily manipulated by extremists. – Read more on the University World News site

Zim students forced to reveal HIV status for scholarships

Zimbabwean AIDS activists are calling for African countries to forgo scholarships requiring students to provide their HIV status as part of the application process. This comes after the Russian embassy ran an advertisement offering Zimbabwean students a chance to start or continue their studies at Russian institutions in February.

Students approved by Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education have to bring required documents to the Russian embassy, including a medical certificate and an HIV/AIDS test certificate issued by an official Zimbabwean health authority. Tendayi Westerhof, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Women Living with HIV National Forum, said: “There is need for policy change on the scholarships. HIV tests must always be voluntary. Forcing young aspiring students who wish to study in certain countries offering scholarships abroad to undergo HIV and AIDS tests is a gross violation of their privacy and human rights.” – Read the full article on the University World News site.

Chinese scientist expelled from university for editing human genes

After revealing that he had created the world’s first gene-edited twins, He Jiankui, a scientist from the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) has been expelled from the institution. An official investigation released its findings last week stating that he had defied government bans and “conducted the research in the pursuit of personal fame and gain” while intentionally dodging supervision and organising researchers on his own to carry out gene-editing on human embryos.

SUSTech said in a statement that based on the conclusions of the official investigation “effective immediately, SUSTech will rescind the work contract with Dr Jiankui He and terminate any of his teaching and research activities at SUSTech”. Jiankui has been confined to a state owned apartment under armed guard since December and could face the death penalty which China has previously enforced on corruption charges.