QUALITY HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING
By: Nompakamo Dzanibe
Apartheid affected the higher education and training systems. Over the years, South African universities have changed but the question is, have they changed for the better or for worse?
Prior to 1994, the South African education system was branded by inequality. South Africa supported 36 higher education institutions as part of it apartheid legacy. People believe that the quality of higher education has decreased.
Nozipho Majola, Chief Librarian at the Durban University of Technology (City Campus) said, “The quality of our education system is slowly decreasing. In order to pass your matric you should at least pass half your subjects with 30% and qualify for courses in University but for us you had to work hard and get an exemption.” Nozipho went to university in 1988 at University of Zululand which was classified as a ‘blacks only’ university then. Current university students have a different story to tell.
Nolubabalo Dlamalala , a first year student at DUT said, “I personally think that the quality of higher education and training is better than during apartheid because many matriculants can now get to universities.”
At a media briefing in Cape Town Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mr. Blade Nzimande was quoted saying , “Since the establishment of the Department of Higher Education and Training we have made important advances in improving the quality of our education system, particularly policy interventions aimed at transforming the education system to overcome the legacy of apartheid and to confront racial, gender and other forms of inequality”.
The quality of the education system is vital. Students are accepted on a certain criteria in higher education institutions around the country. Prior to 1994 you had to get really good marks in order to qualify and be accepted in a higher education institution, and not the 40% that some universities now accept. Sibusiso Gumede, another librarian at DUT said that he had to have an exemption in order to even be considered at a university.
“I remember I had to work for straight A´s in order to get through university but now some courses accept a minimum of 40%. It is easy for today´s generation- we didn’t have it easy,” said Gumede.
The current system will get you into university with a minimum of 40% pass in three subjects. Another interesting factor is that prior to 1994, financial aid schemes and bursaries were not common. Going to university was for the financially privileged. Research has indicated that since 1994 there has been a significant increase in the number of students enrolling in universities.
Significant funding has been channeled through the NSFAS programme, providing opportunities for many students to study at colleges and universities. Civil society organizations have also provided funding support to students through bursaries, scholarships and loans.
Higher education and training institutions have improved technologically. Technology has made learning today easier for students. It is easy for them to access basic information for their research and assignments, but for people who went to university prior to 1994, it is not the same story.
Nozipho Majola said, “Conducting research for us was manual. You had to go to the library to look for a big book.
While reading the book you gained more knowledge and your level of thinking would improve. We didn’t have to rely on computers to type and design our assignments. Everything was hand written but as much as I would say it was better, on the other hand it was hard for us as we didn’t have tutors. Now our children have all the support systems and it is easy for them to pass.”
It is a different story for Fezeka Novukuza, chief editor of Isolezwe.
“For me, technology has made life easier and efficient for the country as a whole it less time now to do thing saving time and money yes we didn’t have it easy during our time in universities but we cannot say technology lazy nation while it making our lives easier,” said Novukuza.
Quality education stems the quality of life one gets to experience.