The Face of Transformation in South African Institutions of Higher Learning

What is the transformation agenda of higher learning education in the so called South Africa? That is question that confronts this country. In early nineties the song that was sang by student leaders, academics, political parties and all constituencies from disadvantaged community on transformation, was that there should be greater access to institution linked to removal of academic exclusion, free education for primary degrees or Diplomas, removal of financial exclusion, curriculum review, greater excess to educational facilities and an end of discrimination in any form including racial, religious and gender.

There was a legitimate expectation that when a democratic government takes over, the legislative framework and bureaucratic environment will be changed to ensure that these principles are encourage and enforced. The evidence is that the same issues are still part of today’s student struggles in University of Limpopo, University of Pretoria, University of Venda, Tshwane University of Technology and University of KwaZulu-Natal, just to name high profile cases.

Public Institutions of Higher Learning have been reduced from 21 to 15 allegedly to foster an integrated education system but the result is ridiculous increase in tuition fees of up to 30% per year in some of the institutions. The reject administrators from the former white only institutions are being sent to govern the disadvantaged campuses where only African students study. The privatisation of student accommodation and related services do not come with the promised saving to our society or institution. The ruling party through its “Size and Shape Framework” were just afraid of closing the absorbed institutions. It was their calculation that economic imperatives will force the institutional councils to take the dirty discussion in the name of economic viability.

It is undeniable that the admission policies of all public institutions have been transformed at the level of racial discrimination. The class perspective has been introduced through a new form of discrimination that has been designed to give the same old results. The financial exclusion of working class and peasant has the same effect as racial discrimination policies because the exploited and excluded social classes are African people who were previous excluded on racial grounds. The middle and upper class remains overwhelmingly reserved for people of European ancestry who enjoy unlimited access to education.

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