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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    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.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    X
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.