Archive for the ‘ Higher Education ’ Category

South Africa: Institutions of higher learning are in a quagmire

The big question faced by higher education institutions in our young democracy is how to increase Black student numbers and maintain higher pass and graduation rates, which currently seems like having a cake and eating too.

Student Participation in Higher Education

Participation by SA Black Students

On one hand, the participation of Black students in higher education has increased from 49% in 1994 to 64% in 2008. While this has been good progress, a 2005 study by HSRC indicated that 40% of  first year students drop out of university, with the bulk of them being Black. Clearly this shows that the legacy of apartheid continues to haunt the country’s education system.

The challenge faced by higher education institutions is illustrated by the following 2 cases:

  • About 3 weeks ago certain political parties and their formations, the national student body and interested civil organisations were up in arms when several universities indicated that they have raised admission requirements in a bid to attract cream of the crop and thereby stem the current high failure rate that is said to have the potential of adversely affecting the institutions’ global competitiveness.
  • This week the University of Cape town’s Medical Faculty was in the spotlight for its admissions policy which requires Black students to meet more modest admission requirements, while White students’ admission requirements are the most stringent. This policy, it is hoped, will naturally lead to more Black students being accepted into this faculty than would normally be the case. The university asserts that Black students come from an inferior educational background and thus deserve special dispensation. Interestingly, this policy is decried by both sides as discriminating. Voices representing Black students say it is demeaning to those it is trying to help, and White interest groups say it is disadvantaging to White students.

With education being at the core of SA government’s attempts to improve in the main living conditions of its poverty-stricken Black citizens, the Department of Education has been focusing on increasing participation of Black students at higher education institutions as guided by the country’s population strata. As a result, higher education institutions are being incentivised for achieving higher enrolment targets that will naturally benefit Black student intake through allocated government subsidies (included in the higher education budget of R15.3 billion for 2009).

The quagmire comes in when higher education institutions have to make a choice of chasing numbers (which favours Black students) versus attracting high calibre of students (who are mainly White). What tends to be the case here is that institutions that depend mainly on government funds for survival will do the former, while institutions that are able to source private funding or which are competing for global recognition tend to do the latter.

Whichever way one looks at it, the challenge of making higher education accessible to the majority of students and achieving the desired pass and qualification rates is still a long way for South Africa.

Mkhulu William Seyama is an avid marketer, digital strategist, infopreneur and founder and CEO of eNitiate Integrated Solutions, a digital marketing agency that uses a robust and holistic approach in ensuring that clients achieve their online objectives effectively, from developing comprehensive online strategies, to ensuring hassle-free online purchase of products.

Mkhulu is also currently working on an exciting project aimed at connecting the dots between choice of higher education studies and eventual employment opportunities. Check out http://nuffdotty.co.za for more on the project

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Attended Launch of Nelson Mandela Career Guidance Campaign

I did a 10-hour round trip on Madiba’s birthday, the 18th of July, to Giyani in Limpopo to witness and participate in the launch of the Nelson Mandela Career Guidance Campaign by the Department of Higher Education (DHE). 10 schools from around Limpopo attended the launch, and I estimate that 3 000 pupils attended. The launch was lead by DHE Minister Dr Blade Nzimande, supported by his Director General, Professor Mary Metcalfe. Also in attendance were the heavyweights in the higher education fraternity such as Umalusi CEO, Dr Mafu Rakometsi and the various SETA’s.

I contributed my 67 minutes in line with theme of the day by joining the bubbly Ms Rhulani Baloyi where we spoke about career choices in Communications with the learners interested in this field. I was glad I spent the time giving back, but it hit me yet again that a lot more needs to be done to make career information available to the learners generally, and especially those from rural areas.

As part of my purpose for attending the launch, I collected tons of career-related books and brochures. I was amazed at the amount of information that is available in the market, but learners continue to be none the wiser as I pointed out above.

The only explanation for the paradox above is that available information is not easily accessible, and/or it is not properly packaged given the profile of targeted readers. Let’s face it, learners generally do not like reading hordes of “serious material”. Give them Daily Sun, Sunday World or People Magazine and you are talking their language.

The $1 million question then is,  how else can the same valuable information be packaged and distributed in such a way that it hits the same chord? Now, therein lies the business idea.

ABOUT ME

I am the founder of eNitiate Integrated Solutions, a digital marketing company. I am also a co-founder of Nuffdotty and Diski4life.  I am an infopreneur, digital strategist, avid marketer, and an eternal student.

You can also check out my latest post on InMarketingSpeak, blog about Marketers’ relationship with digital marketing.

Focus on education by South African government encouraging

I read Mr Blade Nzimande’s higher education 2015 strategy 3 weeks ago and I was impressed by the  clarity of purpose and level of commitment demonstrated. What’s more, there is a definite skew towards measurability of KPI’s. What caught my eye was the department’s clear intention to actively influence the choice of post-Matric  studies towards vocational qualifications in line with identified scarce and critical skills.

There is a positive sign that the government of the day is committed to increasing numbers of matriculants who want to study further through broadening of access to financial assistance on one hand, and improving the link between higher education output and the job market input on another. As an indication of this commitment, the Department of Higher Education will be launching a career guidance campaign in the middle of July. The campaign will target higher education prospects from all corners of the country, but especially from areas where access to career information and counseling is currently a challenge. A call centre manned by career counselors is going to be set up for regular contact, and roadshows will be undertaken to take career information services to the people that need it most.  This sounds like music to my ears, and I fully support this initiative.

As a show of my support, I am going to attend the inaugural launch of the initiative above, titled the Nelson Mandela Career Guidance Campaign, on the 18th of July in Giyani, Limpopo. As the whole world must know by now, the date of launch this aptly titled initiative will be oh Nelson Mandela’s 92nd birthday, and this is befitting given the old man’s passion for social upliftment.

The higher education concept I am working on will complete Mr Nzimande’s career guidance initiative like a hand in a glove.

ABOUT ME

I am the founder of eNitiate Integrated Solutions, a digital marketing company. I am also a co-founder of Nuffdotty and Diski4life.  I am an infopreneur, digital strategist, avid marketer, and an eternal student.

You can also check out my latest post on InMarketingSpeak, blog about Marketers’ relationship with digital marketing.

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