Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande says the latest statistics, showing that more than two-thirds of students studying at the country’s higher education institutions are black Africans, is a cause for celebration.
“It is very pleasing that despite our country’s difficult past, as well as the many challenges that continue to affect South Africa’s higher education sector, commendable transformation is taking place at our institutions of higher learning, with ever more students from disadvantaged backgrounds now accessing higher education,” he said.
Although, the 2016 General Household Survey report released by Statistics South Africa showed that only about 3.3% of black Africans aged 18 to 29 years were studying, as opposed to 18.8% of students of Asian descent and 17.5% of whites in this age group, more black people were enrolling and graduating from the country’s tertiary institutions.
According to Stats SA, about 766 812 students were enrolled at higher educational institutions during 2016 and more than two-thirds (66.4%) of these students were black Africans.
There was also an improvement of individuals with tertiary qualifications from 9.3% to 14%, a 4.7% point increase over a period of 14 years to last year.
Students urged to use PSET system
Meanwhile, Minister Nzimande reiterated his call for students to pursue other opportunities within the Post-School Education and Training (PSET) system other than just university study.
“The mandate of the Department of Higher Education and Training is to develop a skilled and capable workforce that can contribute to an inclusive growth path. Central to achieving this mandate is ensuring student access to, and success in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, leading to intermediate and high-level skills.
“Indeed, TVET colleges play a very pivotal role in addressing South Africa’s skills needs and cater for a wide spectrum and growing numbers of students. They offer flexible and diverse courses ranging from full qualifications to short courses and learnerships,” Minister Nzimande said.