The challenges facing education in South Africa

Kem Ramdass1,
David Kruger2,
Kem Ramdass1, David Kruger2,
• 1Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Arts, Design and
Architecture, University of Johannesburg,
• Auckland Park Bunting Road Campus, Auckland Park,
Johannesburg, 2092
• [email protected] Telephone:0115591067, Fax:
• 2Lecturer, Faculty of Management Sciences, Tshwane
University of Technology,
• Pretoria Campus, Private Bag X680, Pretoria, 0001
• [email protected] Telephone 0123825626, Fax:
The Supply Chain in Education
• Contribution of parents
• Social upbringing
• Education as a contributor to economic development
• There is a major emphasis on the education of the South
African people to become responsible, participatory and
reflective citizens that contribute to an emerging
• Higher education in South Africa is the factor that
influences and determines the success of individuals,
that has a national and international impact on the
country. Thus higher education can contribute to the
building of a united, peaceful, and democratic country.
This paper sketches the challenges faced by higher
education institutions and addresses issues that would
improve the status of education in South Africa.
• The methodology adopted in the research to
highlight some of the issues affecting the SA
education system includes a review of
secondary data including existing literature and
documents, relevant research reports from the
department of education inclusive of other
government departments, relevant journal
articles in education.
• In an era of rapid change that is enforced
through technological innovations, globalization,
market expansion and mass production, the
focus on the most important asset of an
organization, human capital is often forgotten.
• The change should be focused on people – their
intellectual abilities, their fear, their cultural
background and their ability to add value to the
changing societal needs, thereby working
together for the common goal of the country.
• .
• Since the 1994 elections, the emphasis has
been on the redress of the inequalities of the
• The South African government formulated a
programme of restructuring the education
system on principles of equity, human rights,
democracy and sustainable development.
• Against this scenario of change, the South
African education system still faces major
challenges, with political instability at the
forefront of education. This is especially true in
terms of the tension between implementing
changes that need both time and considerable
resources to work their way through, and the
close relationship of issues that need to be
addressed at the sites of implementation i.e. in
the schools, universities, universities of
technology and particularly, in the lives of human
• A large percentage of school aged children who
still do not attend school beyond the primary
level (currently 87 percent attend at the
secondary level and only 20 percent at the
tertiary level).
• The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
in South Africa reported that 12 million children
live in poverty.
• Four million of these children are starving and
40% have growth problems.
• Statistics reveal that 81% experience income
and material depravation and many live in
informal settlements.
• More that 50% live in households where nobody is
employed. Approximately 24% are in the wrong grade for
their age and 6% are not in school. 24% live in
households without both parents (Cohen, 2008).
• Access to education for all South Africans are available
to children 7–15 years and fees are waived according
the financial status of parents. However studies and
outreach is needed to look at those who have never
attended or have been unable to attend school because
of lack of financial support (Higgens, 2007).
• HIV Aids is having a major impact, not only in SA
but throughout the world. It is reducing the
supply of qualified teachers and may disrupt
schooling for a whole generation of children.
Over a period of time, the diminishing
investment in human capital may delay social
and economic development.
• The challenge is to improve the quality of
education across the entire value chain.
• It is important to remember that quality stems
from the quality of life experienced by
individuals, whereby society instills morals,
value, ethical conduct, honesty, integrity, to
name but a few positive characteristics.
• The development of quality principles in the
early years of the child, continued in primary,
secondary, tertiary education, leads to individual
practicing quality principles throughout the work
• The schools are deprived of resources, facilities
and qualified teachers. It is extremely
unimaginable to have efficiency, effectiveness
and quality in education under these
• The quality of education therefore needs to be
increased at the primary and secondary level so
that it prepares individuals for the tasks which
they will receive in higher education.
• There seems to be a gap between secondary
and higher education and the University of
Johannesburg is addressing this issue through
bridging programmes.
• If this increase in quality in education occurs,
South Africa will produce professional individuals
who can contribute to society in positive ways
and therefore directly impact on the economy as
• The mergers of particularly universities and
technikons have caused problems in higher
• The first and most important impact is on
employees (academics and administrative staff)
who have been treated in an inferior manner.
• There is believe that the university has totally
taken over the technikon and the morale has
diminished to a level of being non-existent. This
affects the entire teaching and learning process
and service delivery in organisations.
• There seems to be an inequitable
allocation of work within academic
departments, thus causing further
• The university has implemented its
processes in the technikon environment.
• Programmes are phased out due to a lack
of lecturers.
• Service delivery is a matter of concern in
HEI’s as they have become much larger to
handle and communication through the
levels of hierarchy has become difficult.
• It is important to acknowledge that universities
do not exist in isolation.
• The most important stakeholders are industry,
the government and civil society.
• Industry is the primary consumer of talent and
technological innovation.
• The government provides a regulative
environment through which HEI’s operate while
are also funding HEI’s.
• Civil society supports HEI’s through students
attending universities. Thus there should be a
close collaboration between these stakeholders
through a virtuous spiral of a sense of shared
• However, the dialogue between the state,
industry and HEI’s are patchy and uneven, thus
characterized by a weak understanding of each
• Talent is attracted and retained through
appropriate incentives and rewards and
this applies aptly to academia.
• The challenge of attracting and retaining
the best academic talent is a national
• There is grave concern about the working
conditions and the issue of salaries of
academics which should be debated
nationally and even internationally.
• It is acknowledged that the remuneration level in
academia has not kept pace with other sectors of
• Many academics have migrated to the private sector and
sometimes overseas.
• If this attrition of academics continues because of poor
working conditions and salaries, HEI’s face another
major challenge.
• Academia needs to reclaim its status as an attractive,
esteemed, prestigious and rewarding career, so that the
best talent could be retained. Leadership among all
sectors need to understand that academics are the
pillars of economic and social development and they
deserve recognition and rewards so that SA as a country
• Approximately 50% drop out rate in first
• The success rate/graduation rate is
approximately 15%, and this is a cause for
concern as the skills gap widens. With the
consistent reduction in government
subsidies, there has been an increase in
student fees, thus creating financial
constraints on students pursuing higher
• Especially in HEI’s, the mergers have
caused fear and uncertainty among staff.
• The changing of management structures
has placed stress and strain to
administrative and academic staff, thus
demoralizing them.
• In order to improve the image of higher
education in South Africa, it is imperative
that lines of communication be open to
develop relationships that would improve
the morale of staff.
• Approximately 60% of staff members in the
department of economic and management
sciences have since left a particular organization
to move to other organizations as it became a
problem to travel to a new location.
Unfortunately, management did not attempt to
discuss and attain reasons for the departure of
• HEI’s need to develop a plan to develop a
new generation of academics as the
country is suffering a brain drain and skill
shortages where doctoral graduates are
too few.
• Universities are battling to develop
sufficient young academics that would
replace the ageing academic population.
Another issue is the remuneration of
academics, which is lower that packages
offered by industry.
• HEI’s have the most “professional” personnel
who need to be remunerated accordingly as
salaries are the largest portion of the budget. All
resources need to be upgraded within a
specified time-span as technology improves for
departments to perform their function effectively.
• Funding of HEI’s need to be investigated to
provide an acceptable environment in which
work can be accomplished productively.
• The major focus of universities has been on
research into fundamental principles of science
and mathematics. Universities are generally
judged by their research output on issues facing
the country.
• The dilemma facing institutions is the funding
formula used to calculate government subsidy
for institutions. Costs are escalating but the
subsidies are reducing, thus pressuring
institutions to reduce costs wherever possible.
• South Africa faces a number of formidable
challenges in the years ahead in the realm of
higher education. This paper provided an
overview of the current challenges experienced
within the education system in SA and
counteractive plans that should be implemented
to address these issues. The challenges
encountered by the education department
cannot be resolved overnight.
• It starts with parents guiding their children
throughout their educational career from preprimary school until they complete their higher
education and become responsible citizens that
could add value to society.
• The entire supply chain in the education system
needs to be addressed, where the quality of
education becomes a fundamental requirement.
Industries regard skills education as a basic
requirement for graduates to function effectively.
• .
• This would result in the provision of betterquality education and training throughout
the value chain, thereby contributing to a
competitive workforce that would be able
to function effectively. The vision of this
has been created, but is taking years to
become a reality. The creation of a united
South Africa with the elimination of political
ties is imperative for the success of our
• More research needs to be undertaken to
determine the success of government initiatives
and its effect on the South African people.
Governmental organizations need to focus on
performance management initiatives to ensure
that the human capital employed is delivering on
promised tasks. This is a journey that may take
another decade or two to establish working
relationships among a diversified nation. With a
change in behaviour and attitude and the
elimination of political ties, South Africa could
become the most prosperous nation in the