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14 Feb 2018

South Africa’s transforming higher education

University of the North West

Decolonisation and the transformation of education have been hot topics within South Africa’s higher education sector for the past few years. The North-West University (NWU) recently invited Prof Crain Soudien, CEO of the Human Sciences Research Council, to give an in-depth public lecture on “The Long Transition in South African Higher Education: Struggles around Transformation”.

In his lecture Prof Soudien touched on a number of important issues. They include the post-apartheid inheritance, the shape of the current system, the transformation challenge and the future of the South African university.

Understanding the change of education
According to Prof Soudien higher education around the world can be categorised according to three phases, namely the elite, mass higher education and universal access. “South Africa is coming out of its elite phase and tipping into a mass educational system. This shift is a result of big sociological changes that occurred in the country after 1994,” said Prof Soudien.

He stated that since 1994 there has been a massive shift in the country, with a huge growth in the black middle class. This middle class, however, was still fragile. One of the most important features of this middle class is its commitment to better education for its children. Statistics show that the biggest component of its spending was on education. Middle class people are sending their children to former Model C schools and universities, often at great sacrifice.

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University of the North West

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