SA universities are not pre-schools - Angie Motshekga

Pretoria – South Africa’s education system is not diversified enough to meet the requirements of the economy, said Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga.

The minister was speaking at a press briefing on the progress made in delivering school infrastructure, held in Pretoria on Monday.

“We have a bloated higher education system,” she said. Motshekga explained that in Austria, 14% of the student population go to university, whereas in South Africa, 80% of matriculants go to university.

The lack of a diversified education system has resulted in a distortion of skills. For basic education, we need people who have “hands on” experience to teach in the foundation phase, explained Motshekga. Now young people are trained to teach at universities.

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“Universities are research institutions. You can’t turn a university into a pre-school, which we have done as a country.”

To address this teacher training colleges are being reopened, said Motshekga. “We are training bedside nurses at universities. That is a technical skill.”

Further when young people go to university they are not adequately prepared for their career choices, she explained. They qualify with A's in matric but there are a number of variables that make it difficult to cope at tertiary, level such as lack of accommodation, she said.

But the biggest obstacle is mainly the landscape of the education system, which must be addressed, she said. This is why a number of graduates find themselves unemployed.

Rising school fees

Responding to a question on school fee hikes in former Model C schools, Motshekga said that the department had instructed schools not to continue hiking fees, making it unaffordable for parents who can pay. “We do not want to discourage those who can pay from paying,” she said.

However fees have increased. The reality of the country, where “democracy is taken to the extreme”, is that fees fall under the power of school governing bodies (SGBs).

Fees are a decision of the parents. Parents as a body agree to increases, she explained. “As part of a parents’ body, parents should demonstrate if they cannot afford fees,” she added.

Restrictions are placed on state schools, she said. For example in Gauteng the limit is R11 000 per learner. However private schools may charge up to R32 000 a year, said Motshekga. 

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