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South African schools fared poorly in WEF Report

South African primary schools were placed 132th out of 144 countries with regard to quality teaching, and 115th with regard to access by children to these schools. This is the findings of the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report 2012/2013.

A positive point however was that South Africa’s Higher Education and Training sector as a whole was placed at 84th position. This could be because South Africa has a number of world-class universties, according to Graeme Bloch, an independent Education expert.

With regards to the quality of mathematics and science education South Africa was placed second last.

Countries with the best primary education according to the report is Belgium, Finland, New Zealand, Singapore, Netherlands, Iceland and Canada.

To read more go to Alet Rademeyer’s article in the Afrikaans newspaper Beeld by Clicking Here!

To read the WEF Global Competitiveness Report 2012/2013, Click Here!

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South Africa: Higher Education challenges of racism and access

Chika Sehoole, Professor at University of Pretoria, 22 July 2012, University World News

“Although admissions figures for black students and numbers of black staff have improved in the post-apartheid era, many black people still feel excluded within the university system and there are problems with a lack of available places to meet the demand for higher education. At the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, South Africa’s higher education sector made national and international news headlines.

At the end of 2011, the University of Pretoria was hit by allegations of apparent racism among its staff. A black engineering professor alleged systematic harassment and victimisation, on racial grounds.

At the beginning of the 2012 academic year, a black parent was killed in a stampede at the gates of the University of Johannesburg, where crowds of prospective students had gathered in the quest to gain admission into this university.

These two incidents – allegations of racism and the quest for access to higher education, especially by black people – are just two examples of the challenges that South Africa experiences in meeting some of the priority areas identified in 1994 by the post-apartheid government.”

To read the rest of Chika Sehoole’s article on University World News, Click Here!

Plan to expand and improve South Africa’s Higher Education sector

In a Green Paper on Post-School Education and Training, the South African government Department of Higher Education and Training recently announced its plans to raise university enrolments from the current 900 000 students to 1.5 million by 2030. Also mooted was a target of 4 million students for colleges and other post-school institutions – 6 times more than current numbers. These changes will raise the participation rate in post-school education of 18-24 year olds from the current 16% to 23%.

The Green Paper includes in its agenda:

  • new funding;
  • improvement of access to education and training opportunities;
  • research on financial problems facing many students as well as poor living conditions and student support services;
  • strengthening of institutions to improve education quality;
  • the development of a post-school education and training system that is equitable, accessible and affordable to all sections of the population, with free education and training for the poor;
  • support for previously disadvantaged universities, including asisstance to improve infrastructure and quality of teaching and research;
  • reform of South Africa’s complex regulatory system, by doing away with duplication. and incoherence and inconsistency in the functioning parts of the system;
  • building coherence between basic education and the post-school system and between the post-school system and the labour market;
  • strengthening of collaboration between private and public sectors;
  • expansion of distance education, using appropriate information communication technologies, other technologies and methods;
  • the creation of two new universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga provinces;
  • improvement of throughput rates;
  • addressing concern sbout low participation rate of Africans;
  • addressing concern about decrease of male students;
  • improvement of graduation rates in science, engineering and technology, because it is not meeting economic development objectives;
  • strengthening of scholarship in the humanities;
  • provision of resources and funding to strenthen teaching in universities, without reducing the importance of research;
  • exploration of the possibility of partnerships between public and private institutions;
  • strengthening of African languages as part of formal programmes

 The Department of Higher Education and Training also plans to work with the Department of Science and Technology to ensure increased support for postgraduate study and for senior researchers, as well as a stable funding model for all educational institutions that conduct research. This means improving research capacity as a major focus for universities with a specific focus on meeting the country’s developmental objectives.

To read more go to Karen McGregor’s article on University World News by Clicking Here!

To read more go to Kim Cloete’s article at Cross Currents on MoneyWeb by Clicking Here!

To read the Green Paper on Post-School Education and Training Click Here!

SA’s Department of Basic Education reveals its ICT plans

South Africa’s Department of Basic Education is aiming to utilise technology as a developmental tool for teacher education as well as integrating it into the school curriculum, Mr Enver Surty, Deputy Minister of Basic Education said recently at a gala dinner in Cape Town, at the Microsoft Partners in Learning Worldwide Innovative Education Forum Awards.

Surty said that an inter-ministerial committee had met at the end of October to sign an agreement that binds the Minister of Basic Education, The Deputy Minister of Basic Education, MECs and the ministers of other departments in the achievement of certain goals. While there was a commitment to the provision of quality basic education, Information Communication Technology (ICT) was highlighted.

The commitment is that by 2015 every learner who has passed grade 3 will have had exposure to ICT.

Surty also referred to the undersea cables linking Africa to the world, and vice versa, and said “technology has been taken to the heart of Africa…”

Currently South Africa has about 26 000 schools, of which only 3  in 10 have access to technology and only 1 in 10 schools has access to the Internet, mainly through dial up connections. The government is trying to roll out the Teacher Laptop Initiative which provides teachers with a R130 subsidy per month towards the purchase of a laptop, but the use of technology in teaching methodology is yet to be formally incorporated into the teacher training curriculum.

Surty then referred to the Microsoft Partners in Learning Programme, through which the Department of Basic Education has received R93 million in free software via a national schools’ agreement. More than 25 000 teachers have been trained using the programme’s Teacher Training curriculum and the aim is to foster the development of 21st century skills among learners.

To read the original article by Primarashni Gower on Mail and Guardian Online Click Here!

Blade Nzimande calls for expansion of access to tertiary education

Access to formal education and training institutions is constrained and needs to be expanded Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said recently.

Enrolments at Further Education and Training (FET) colleges in particular needed to increase if South Africa was to come close to meeting the need for mid-level skills and the demand from youth for increased training opportunities

While mindful of the need to maintain and improve the quality of education and training boldness is needed in expanding enrolments, and thus opportunities, while not compromising quality, he said at the National Skills Summit in Pretoria, recently.

This speech follows on the heel of another speech  delivered by him at the FET college summit in Johannesburg, where he called for some amendments and additions in the curriculum of Further Education and Training (FET) colleges to absorb the country’s desolate youth into its workforce and address the high unemployment rate in South Africa.

To read more go to the Sapa article on Times Live by Clicking Here!

OR read the article by Loni Prinsloo in Creamer Media’s Engineering News by Clicking Here!

South African universities raise their admission requirements

The high failure rate of 1st year university students has prompted several South African universities to raise their admission requirements for 2011.

In a snap survey by the Sunday Times recently 8 out of the 12 universities contacted said they would be implementing stricter admission criteria.

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) will no longer accept maths literacy for admission to science degrees, while University of Cape Town (UCT) will require 1st year applicants to write national tests in maths, academic literacy and quantitative literacy. Rhodes University has increased its point-based system from 35 to 40 and the University of the Free State (UOFS) from 28 to 30

To read more go to Prega Govender’s article in the Sunday Times by Clicking Here! 

More South African pupils to have access to free education

From 2011 more pupils in South African schools will have access to free education, the South African Department of Basic Education announced recently.

This has been welcomed by Naptosa, but it also warned, that the system would now have to focus on the quality of the education provided. This observation is crucial since the current roll-out of no-fee schools has drawn sharp criticism for its failure to properly resource such schools.

To read more go to Tebeogo Monama’s article in the Sowetan by Clicking Here!