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 Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More