Posted on August 29, 2007

‘No White Students Are Allowed To Enter’

Angelique Serrao, Cape Times (Cape Town), August 28, 2007

A parent has objected to the “no whites” entry requirement for an accountancy Olympiad.

The parent, Rhett Kahn, whose daughter attends Welkom High School, said he couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw a notice for entry to the Olympiad which stated: “No white students are allowed to enter.”

Kahn said he was outraged that his daughter could not enter the Olympiad while all her classmates could.

“I’m an ANC member and my daughter is the only white child in a black school. I deliberately kept it that way. How do I explain to her that her friends can write the Olympiad but she can’t?” Kahn asked.

But Olympiad organisers said the competition was aimed at changing the demographics of people employed in the profession.

The SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) explained that the competition—the Softline Pastel Olympiad—was aimed at transforming racial demographics among chartered accountants, and was targeting black pupils at 40 schools in the Free State.

“Our objectives are to try to change the demographic over-representation by whites and Indians in the sector,” said Natalie Zimmelman, project director for transformation at Saica. The winners will be awarded bursaries to study accountancy at university.

“We aim this Olympiad very specifically at black and coloured learners, it’s a part of our broader strategy for transformation in the sector.”

Zimmelman said of the 27 000 chartered accountants registered with SAICA, 25 497 were white, 2 405 Indian, 857 black and 788 coloured. “In 2006, there were 700 African students who passed maths on higher grade with a C+ or more in the country.

If you look at the average, about two will get to be chartered accountants,” Zimmelman said. “We have many projects trying to change this, and the Softline Pastel Olympiad is one.”

Zimmelman said the imbalance also ran across gender lines. Of the 25 497 white chartered accountants, only 5 225 were female.