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South Africa launches public debate on post-secondary education

Dr. B. E. Nzimande, South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education and Training, presented earlier this month the Green Paper for Post-School Education and Training. This document aims to prioritise the government’s actions in this area. Specifically, the purpose of the Green Paper is to involve the general public in the debate on major challenges facing higher education and training in South Africa and to collect feedback for a final White Paper on the country’s post-school system. Comments will be accepted by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) through 30 April 2012.

The Green Paper seeks to align the post-school education and training system with South Africa’s overall development agenda. Thus, it is in line with the National Development Plan unveiled last November (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, December 2011). The Green Paper reiterates major priorities for the education authorities to deal with in South Africa’s specific context, including: 

  • the expansion of access to education and training opportunities (e.g. by raising the university enrolment rate from the current 16% to 23% by 2030 and supporting the previously disadvantaged universities); 
  • the improvement of education quality; and 
  • the construction of a post-school education and training system that is equitable, accessible and affordable for everyone.

The new consultations on South Africa’s post-secondary education and training occur at a critical moment. The Green Paper was released just a few days after several people had been seriously injured in a stampede for a limited number of places at the University of Johannesburg. This tragedy highlights flaws in South Africa’s higher education admissions process and the desperation of school-leavers to secure access to a tertiary qualification.

Department of Higher Education and Training University World News (stampede at the University of Johannesburg)