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SARUA brings out a new report on Higher Education in the SADC region

The Southern African Regional Universities Association(SARUA) recently brought out a report on Higher Education in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. The report is titled Building Higher education Scenarios 2025: a strategic agenda for development in SADC.

To download the report Click Here!

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Africa’s contribution to world science is shrinking

Africa’s contribution to world knowledge is shrinking and more students choose to study overseas, writes Johann Mouton in the Beeld newspaper. There is a need to build out Africa’s ability to produce knowledge he says.

Today’s economy and society are increasingly dependent on knowledge to ensure progress, and internationally universities are assuming the responsibility to produce that type of scientific knowledge and to disseminate it. This trend however is not happening in Africa, and especially in Africa South of the Sahara.

African countries very often lack research laboratoria, and government institutions with abundant resources. Many of these countries experience huge debt problems resulting from factors ranging from civil wars to globalisation. This has made these countries more dependent on international help. The problem with this according to Mouton is that these international institutions (especially the World Bank) rather support Basic Education than Higher Education. Reasons for this are that investments in primary and secondary education result in far better returns, and secondly that Basic Education is seen as a basic human right.

This led to a shift in focus more on basic education with a resultant decline in funding to higher education institutions. This in turn led to a brain drain, with scores of academics streaming to developed countries and to the private sector.

Mouton cites a study by the University of Leiden’s Centre for Science and Technology, indicating that the contribution of Africa South of the Sahara to world science in 1996 was only 0.7% .

Africa’s was at it highest point in 1987 according to Mouton, but since then Africa has lost 11 % of its contribution to world science, and 31 % in Africa South of the Sahara.

Other factors responsible for this downward trend mentioned in Mouton’s article are:

  • Internal factors at African universities: – University adminstrators are very often government appointees, which have an impact on decision making processes.
  • Intellect-pull effect: – postgraduate students that continue their studies at institutions outside their own countries because of lack of resources and inadequate Masters and Doctorate programmes in their home countries. 

Mouton also cites UNESCO’s outward mobility rate, which measures the number of students that studies overseas. This shows that 87 % of Botswana’s students are studying outside the country, and 30 % of students from Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and Mauritius are studying outside their countries. South Africa though has a high inward mobility rate because many of the students from these countries are continuing their studies here, but the most popular destinations are the United Kingdom and the United States.

Mouton pleads for the establishment of a dedicated capacity building centre that will support, strengthen and invigorate African expertise and knowledge, giving as an example the African Doctoral Academy at the University of Stellenbosch.

Johann Mouton is the director of the African Doctoral Academy (ADA) in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Stellenbosch.  

To read more go to Johann Mouton’s original article in Afrikaans that was published in the Beeld newspaper of 2 December 2011. Click Here to access the article.

UP rector opens Groenkloof Campus Infrastructure Development

Professor Cheryl de la Rey, UP principal and vice chancellor, left and Prof Irma Eloff, dean of Faculty of Education, right

During the recent opening of the new infrastructure development at the Groenkloof Campus of the University of Pretoria (UP), Professor Cheryl de la Rey, vice chancellor and principal stressed the importance of producing quality teachers who will be able to excel in the subjects that they teach. De la Rey also stressed her concern about the decline in the numbers of teachers in the country and the importance of reversing this trend. She added that education was the means to transform the country.

According to De la Rey investment in education is vital and that UP has to be responsive to the needs of South Africa and the African continent

 Some of the major building projects include 3 new high technology lecture theatres with 350; 350 and 400 seats; an open air amphi theatre (boma) next to the Groenkloof dam; lifts; bathrooms and a special passage for people with disabilities; science laboratories; 121 computer working stations; bathrooms and the upgrading of many facilities on the  Groenkloof Campus.

New lecture theatre

Boma

 

 

 

 

 

This new infrastructure development  will provide the necessary cutting edge equipment and facilities needed to ensure the production of quality teachers.

SA Basic Education Department to follow a more ‘scripted approach’ to teacher development

The South African Department of Basic Education has decided to follow a more “scripted approach” to the development of teachers, Deputy basic Education Minister Enver Surty announced recently. The first annual national assessments (ANA) have provided the department with important information to assist in identifying areas where urgent attention was needed to improve learner’s success levels.

The scripted appoach according to Surty will include:

  • training and support to teachers to help them manage and use efficient methods to teach specific content areas which were identified in the assessments as areas that are particularly challenging to learners. Critical to the success of this new approach will be more targeted, subject specific teacher education and development that will improve teacher content knowledge;
  • strengthening the campaign to attract young people to the teaching profession through the Funza Lushaka Bursary programme;
  • develop performance management contracts with clear performance targets with principals and deputy principals;
  • strengthening the appointment procedures for school principals;
  • strengthening district support for schools

Surty also shared the following resolutions on basic education from the recent government lekgotla:

  • acceleration of the provision of universal basic services such as the eradication of infrastructure backlogs, provision of sporting facilities, and national planning and procurement for provision of infrastructure, textbooks and stationary;
  • improving, monitoring, support and accountability in the schooling system, including mechanisms for improved teacher accountability , and involvement in school improvement activities. 

This posting was based on a Sapa article published on News24 on 23 August 2011.

To read the original Sapa article Click Here!

SA government eyeing free tuition to boost skills shortages

In a recent cabinet lekgotla the South African government agreed on a number of resolutions to address skills shortages. The lekgotla noted the mismatch between the supply and demand of skills for specific educational categories in the light of the unemployment rate that is expanding.

Deputy Basic Education Minister Enver Surty gave feedback from the lekgotla. He stressed that the labour market is plagued by skills shortages that constrains the country’s economic growth potential. Keeping this in mind the lekotla resolved to take action on various key matters including:

  • examining the possibility of covering the full cost of study for (poor) students in scarce skills areas in all years of study; 
  • guarding against downgrading the social science programme provision;
  • supporting post-graduate students through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to develop a new generation of academics in addition to National Research Foundation initiatives;
  • intensifying efforts to promote research and development in higher education institutions;
  • seeing to it that students that have completed their studies pay back their loans so that other students can also be supported;
  • giving urgent attention to the problem of accommodation in the higher education system (only 18.5 % of students are accommodated in university residences)
  • ensuring that all infrastructure programmes are linked to skills training and workplace experiential learning;
  • strengthening and repositioning Public Service Sector Seta (PSeta) to play a more effective role in skills training for public service
  • seeing to it that all government departments pay skills levies, as required by law;
  • expanding the intake of interns into the public service, municipalities and state-owned enterprises; and
  • utilising training within the public service as largest single employer in the country.

This posting was based on a Sapa article published on Fin24 on 23 august. To read the original Sapa article Click Here!

The South African family is in crisis according to an SAIRR Report

South African families are in crisis according to a recent report released by the South African Institute of Race Relations. The report “The First Steps to Healing the South African Family”, documents the extent of family breakdown in South Africa and the effect this is having on children and the youth.

Some of the statistics that can be found in the report are:

  • Of the 9.1 million double orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2005, around 5.2 million (almost 60%) had lost at least one of their parents to AIDS
  • South Africa has 859 000 double orphans (children who have lost both parents) (2008 figures)
  • South Africa has 2 468 000 paternal orphans (2008 figures)
  • South Africa has 624 000 maternal orphans (2008 figures)
  • 3.95 million children in South Africa had lost 1 or both parents by 2008 which means an increase of about one third since 2002
  • Almost half of all orphans and two-thirds of double orphans in South Africa were between the ages of 12 and 17 years
  •  481 994 double orphans were enrolled in ordinary schools in South Africa in 2008
  • 1 661 275 children whose mother or father had died were enrolled in ordinary schools in South Africa in 2008
  • Medical Research Council’s estimates in 2002 were that in 2015 some 5 700 000 children in Southern Africa would have lost one or both parents to AIDS

To more go to TimesLive’s article by Clicking Here!

To download the full report Click Here!

Naledi Pandor’s speech on the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope

Naledi Pandor, South African Minister of Science and technology recently gave a speech about the developments around South Africa’s bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope. South Africa and Australia are the finalists in the bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope.

The SKA is an internationally supported project to build the most powerful and technologically advanced research facility in the field of radio astronomy. It will utilise cutting edge technology in electronics, computing, network connectivity, material sciences and engineering. If this facility is constructed in Africa, it will catapult the Continent to the forefront of science for years to come.

In preparation for hosting of the SKA telescope, South Africa has introduced a comprehensive human capital development programme that supports students across the continent to study physics, astronomy, engineering and ICT. This programme has been extremely successful in attracting young African students into science and engineering and in producing a cohort of postgraduates.

To read Pandor’s full speech on defenceWeb Click Here!