News / Africa

South Africa University Students Ponder Future

Students queue outside the University of Johannesburg to register for this year's studies, January 10, 2012.
Students queue outside the University of Johannesburg to register for this year's studies, January 10, 2012.

Multimedia

Audio
  • report on future for some South African university graduates

Nadia Samie
This is Part 11 of a 12-part series:  Education in Africa
Continue to Parts:1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 /
6 / 7/ 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 /12

 

At the end of last year, about 350,000 Grade 12 students in South Africa passed their final exams.  While some celebrated, others pondered their next move.  In reality, a very small group of those who had passed, had achieved grades good enough to qualify for university admission.  And of this reduced pool, very few can afford to pay for their tertiary education. 

While South African education officials celebrate last year’s 70.2 percent Grade 12 pass rate, the party’s over for many of those secondary school graduates, who are now scratching their heads, unsure of what to do next.  Just about 24 percent of the graduates have the grades necessary to apply to universities.

And while some have since started their tertiary education careers, what has happened to the rest? Many say they simply couldn’t afford to study further, or their grades wouldn’t allow it.

Down payment

Despite the obstacles, talking to young people like Samuel Jacobs, 18, it’s clear that education is greatly valued, and is seen as a down payment, on a successful future.

“A tertiary education basically sets up your future, because if you don’t have a tertiary education, you’ll probably be a blue collared worker and be earning a little money, and then life is going to be so much more difficult for you,” he said.

Lenyaro Sello graduated from Grade 12 - or matriculated, as it’s called here - when she was 16 years old. She says there are many reasons why young people feel they’ve hit a brick wall, once they leave the high school safety net.

“You don’t get guidance, you know, you don’t get guidance as to what you want to do, what makes sense, what you are suited for," said Sello. 'So for instance, I remember when I was in matric, everyone in my class wanted to do office technology.  So I thought I’m gonna do office technology.  I get home and my grandfather says - he’s very big on education - he says, so you want to be a secretary.  I’m like oh, so that’s what it means. See what I mean.”

Sello also believes there’s a lack of preparation at school level, which becomes apparent once students enter university.

“No one actually prepares you for the work that happens at varsity [university]," she complained.  "Just the academic work itself, it is very different.  No one cares if you’re going to do go to classes, no one cares if you’re going to write exams or whatever.  And I feel like there’s a gap missing, you need to be prepared.  If I don’t go to school, my parents would be called, but if I don’t go to varsity [university], no one cares. And then you wonder why there’s such a drop in graduates.”

Lack of funds

The major obstacle standing between young South Africans and a university education, is a lack of funds. But Sello - who is the recipient of a state student loan - says many prospective students are unaware of the funding opportunities that exist in the country.

“First of all, finance, because it is there, people don’t know about it. Especially in townships, people pass, they don’t know that there is a student loan," she noted. "Two, universities are made out to be for intelligent ones, so most of the people are not ambitious enough to even apply for universities, so they end up going to dodgy colleges, because no-one has told them about universities, no one has told them what is required of it.”

Jacobs agrees that among his friends, university education is perceived to be too expensive, and out of their reach. And a host of other social issues also come into play.

“Firstly, government can start making the prices more accessible, because it is quite expensive to join a university, and number two, to make transport services more accessible,” said Jacobs.

In his State of the Nation Address on February 9, South African President Jacob Zuma announced that two more universities will be built and acknowledged another problem: that the country’s universities are running at full capacity, and there’s simply no space left to admit more students this year.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs