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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora