Academics failing students

2008-01-15 00:00

Access without a fair chance of success is not access at all. In fact, South African children are being cheated by the way they are readily admitted to tertiary institutions, but not given sufficient support to pass.

In a hard-hitting address at the opening of the National Tertiary Education Staff Union in Durban yesterday, Education Minister Naledi Pandor said recent studies of 2000 and 2001 first-time students show that too few have graduated after five years — two years after the minimum time.

She laid the blame for the poor pass rate squarely at the feet of both academics and higher-learning institutions and challenged both to work for the national good of transforming education meaningfully, rather than focusing on employment issues.

She said academics have a duty to address issues like outdated structures and inappropriate teaching methods and to overturn the negative image of higher education.

“It is rare to meet an ordinary South African with a positive opinion about our universities,” she said, pointing out that many feel academics behave inappropriately and “cost more than they were worth”.

There was a great deal of opposition to structures put in place by the Higher Education Act of 1997 that were intended to break down the “ivory tower” structure of decision making, said Pandor.

“Over the last 10 years, higher-education institutions have struggled with these structures. Some councils have assumed the role of management and some students have assumed that management. Councils cannot take decisions without their consent,” she said, adding that academics need to review how they deal with student leadership as students can participate, but not assume responsibility for managing institutions.

She said she is “puzzled that the finances of some universities remain a mystery” and said that she has no “qualms about being harsh” as she would not “send good money after bad” to buttress overdrafts and bad policies at institutions that have failed to stabilise finances.

Instead, she said she is quite happy to run the finances of some institutions herself.

She also raised the issue of quality, pointing out that the differences in accreditation and processing systems between universities are “so stark” that it is hard to understand how they operate in a single education system. “I have been a lecturer and I have children at University … ,” she said, questioning a university calendar year that sees students enter the system in mid-February, but only be introduced to faculties and lecturers by late March when they go on holiday for Easter.

She said that lecturers need to interrogate teaching methods. Many hand out photocopies, but neglect to teach students to read. She pointed out that students today are different from those of 20 years ago. Universities cannot assume that methods used then are still appropriate.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.