South Africa is one of the more developed countries of the African continent. It’s also the most industrialized of all African territories, with a reasonable chunk of their GDP allocation set aside for its education sector. Being a model nation in any continent and to sustain this position, requires a workforce that is highly skilled and equipped to function across a wide range of sectors, not just for today, but for the future. Many countries are recognizing that not only is it important to create industry and employment opportunity, but there is also a responsibility by governments to match their vision and growing capacity with a competent workforce. Without qualified human input, the industry will suffer and external labor would have to be sourced at the detriment of the local population.
We cannot ignore the history of South Africa, where a system of segregation was legitimized by the then government. This can be blamed for the major gaps of inequality in several areas, including the education sector, now still very prevalent. To address this issue, the World Bank has recently recommended a need for the reform of the tertiary education sector, aimed at increasing the access to tertiary level schooling, especially at a time when the South African economy is expected to grow from 1.3% in 2013 to 1.7% in 2020 (The World Bank, 2019).
Although South Africa can boast of having one of Africa’s largest youth populations, well qualified to enter tertiary level programs, they aren’t well motivated to enroll into tertiary institutions due to cost and risk concerns versus the opportunity of actually being able to attend college (Dlamini,2019).This reality, according to Dessus, the program leader of macroeconomics, poverty, and governance in several territories, including South Africa, has been a major challenge in encouraging students to enroll. Nonetheless, all the factors are now here for institutions to benefit. From a promising youth workforce to an economy that is expected to grow exponentially within the coming year. It’s now left to all stakeholders to continue with an educational reform along with a drive to get more students enrolled in the tertiary universities.
Dlamini (2019), Tertiary education is worth it, but SA must entice students to enrol’, City Press. Available https://city-press.news24.com/News/tertiary-education-is-worth-it-but-sa-must-entice-students-to-enrol-20190123.(Accessed: June 15th, 2019)
The World Bank (2019),’Reforming Tertiary Education in South Africa Could Reduce Inequality of Opportunity, Boost Growth’ Available: at https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2019/01/22/reforming-tertiary-education-in-south-africa-could-reduce-inequality-of-opportunity-boost-growth. (Accessed: June 15th, 2019)
Mr. Paul Gulston
Westford University College