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South Africa needs more PhD graduates

Bold intervention is needed to increase the number of PhD graduates in South Africa, a study released recently by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF) has found.

The production of doctorates in the country had been stable for several years, ASSAF’s Professor Jonathan Jansen said in Johannesburg at the presentation of a study on demands for high-level skills in an emerging economy.

“In the context of current systems and capacity at South African universities, there is little hope that rapid growth in high-level qualifications at the level of the doctorate will materialise in the foreseeable future.”

The report was produced by an expert study panel, led by Jansen, and showed among other things that South Africa’s production of PhDs per million of the population, 26 PhD graduates yearly per million, compared poorly with other countries such as Portugal (569 per million) and Australia (264 per million) per annum.

To read more go to Phumza Sokana’s article on IOL News by Clicking Here!

To read the report on PhD graduates in South Africa by the Academy of Science of South Africa Click Here!


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Compulsory community service for all South African graduates?

The South African government is looking at the possibility of introducing compulsory community service for all university graduates, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande recently said at the ANC’s national general council (NGC) in Durban.

The reasoning behind this imperative arises from the current compulsory community service performed by medical doctors after completing their degrees.” Why only do this for doctors”, he said.

Nzimande also emphasized other imperatives as well. He suggested a whole range of roles that young graduates can play, for example  accountants, engineers etc who can be used by rural (and) local government.

Community service can also help youg graduates acquire the necessary skills and work experience.

A lot of unemployed graduates are unable to find work, and this will give them opportunity. Then there is also the aspect of graduates giving something back to the country.

To read more go to Stuart Graham’s article on News 24 by Clicking Here!

Decline in South African PhD graduates a major problem

South Africa’s inability to produce enough doctoral graduates to build the ‘knowledge economy’ it aspires to, or simply to replace the existing cohort of academics in the higher education system, is a challenge widely acknowledged by government departments, their agencies and universities. But fixing the problem is a lot harder.

According to Professor Johann Mouton, director of the University of Stellenbosch’s Centre for Research on Science and Technology (CREST) which has conducted a five-part study on the PhD, part of the solution lies in making more money available to doctoral students to enable them to pursue their studies full-time.

Currently about 80% of South African doctoral students are part-time and generally take far longer to complete their degrees than their European or American counterparts.

Mouton identified a string of blockages to postgraduate study:  

  • The low number of matric [school leaving examination] exemptions, and too few good passes in maths and science
  • The problem of student poverty and debt. SA produces about 100,000 bachelor graduates a year, but the majority of those need to start working immediately to pay off debt

The number of potential researchers is whittled down at each level of the system. Out of about 22,000 honours students, those pursuing masters and doctorate degrees amount to only 10,000, of which just under 1,200 (1,182 in 2008) end up graduating with a PhD.

To read more go to Sharon Dell’s article in University World News Africa Edition by Clicking Here!

Enrolment and graduation of teachers in South Africa declining

A new book by Andrew Paterson and Fabian Arends titled “Teacher Graduate Production in South Africa”(HSRC Press) looks at the supply and demand of teachers within a national context that acknowledges an impending shortage of teachers. The book specifically focuses on the changing demography of education students at South African higher education institutions. It explores a broad overview of the enrolment, graduation and throughput characteristics of students registered for programmes in the education field, both in the Initial Professional Education and Training (IPET) and Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) fields – which apply to new students and qualified teachers, respectively. To read more on the Skills Portal Site Click Here!

Graduates naive about Jobs

“Generation Y”, who were born between the late 1970s and 2000, are entering the market with entirely different expectations from those of their predecessors. Much of these are unrealistic.

To read the whole article, click here!

Fixing South African schools a 30 year task

Graeme Bloch, an education specialist at the Development Bank of Southern Africa recently wrote an article in the newspaper, Pretoria News about the dire straight South African schools are in. According to him a  toxic mix of problems keeps South Africa’s schools and educational institutions in a state of disaster, neither able to meet the skills needed in a growing economy nor able to provide jobs opportunities to youths.

In the article he highlights failures in the SA education system and discusses many of the problems South African schools face.

According to the Bloch fixing education will be a 30-year task, which must start now, with urgency.
Everyone should be on board, unified around a vision for a learning nation.  Priorities should be identified, phases for restoration should be stipulated, and a starting point chosen.  The debate around this should not be once-off, but a process.

Bloch further highlights some elements that could help focus such a restoration plan.

– “Teachers. How do we motivate the teachers? With training and clear texts, quality can rise. Through a mixture of encouragement and support – where necessary ‘gently’ holding recalcitrants’ feet to the fire, teachers will be central to the national endeavour. The best of our generations should aspire to teach”.

– “Departments must do their part, especially at provincial level. Fill vacant and ‘acting’ posts, manage properly, deliver on time and at the right place. The focus should be on management and follow through, responsibility and accountability”.

– “Society can rally around to ensure government structures fulfill their tasks”.

– “Corporate social investment spending is increasingly focused in clusters of schools over a consistent and long period across a range of programmes of support”.

– “Many graduates can organise to plough back into schools and help in a systematic way”.

– “Community programmes such as Proudly Manenberg, Tikkun, or efforts like those by the parents of Piet N Aphane High pupils in rural Limpopo, show that schools can be improved at grassroots level”.

– “A huge change in our mindset, accompanied by a massive effort, is needed to improve the quality of education, especially in the poorer schools where the majority of the disadvantaged are”.

To read the Pretoria News Article Click Here!