Dr Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has met with the South African Medical Association (SAMA) to express his concerns about the low level of graduates achieving health qualifications. His concerns include the level of graduates of previously disadvantaged groups. Human health is identified as a scarce skill area and the 2014 targets are in danger of not being met.
“Government is also very concerned about the throughput rate to the extent that we have met with the deans of scarce skills faculties as well as the leadership of Higher Education South Africa to interrogate the challenges and explore interventions that are needed to meet the national set targets for graduate output in scarce skills areas,” Minister Nzimande said.
One of the challenges identified is the drop-out rate - particularly of students from previously disadvantaged groups. Although progress has been made in increasing registration that is broadly representative, this does not follow through to the graduation numbers.
“In our discussions with the deans, we have further highlighted the need to develop a comprehensive programme of tutoring and mentoring first year students as one of the ways of dealing with the low graduate throughput rate in the scarce skills areas,” Minister Nzimande said.
Why is the drop-rate so high? What support is needed to resolve this problem?
A new medical university to replace the Medical University of South Africa (Medunsa) is planned - and SAMA will now be included in that team, funding for medical students were discussed, and the status of the post-graduate qualification was also discussed.
Are these interventions sufficient to solve the problem? What is needed to ensure that human health graduates are representative of the South African population?
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Its the legacy of poor school education, and the OBE system, in my opinion.
Until this problem is solved, it will never be solved at HE level, no matter what interventions are put in place.
Teach the kids reading, writing and arithmetic until at least the end of Grade 3 - all else follows from that, but we are too busy worrying about "political correctness" and children's rights (responsibilities are never mentioned) and all sorts of other peripheral issues. Make education an essential service where teachers do not have the right to strike. Bring back corporal punishment - a few strokes on the behind never killed anyone.
Really what I am saying is let's, for heaven's sake, go back to basics!
Dear Sylvia and Jacqui
I cannot agree with you more. Years ago, when I was teaching in the Eastern Cape, one of my colleagues, an excellent biology teacher, was quite renowned for his preparation of pupils for athletic field numbers. Someone asked him about his secret to his success. He answered, "I simply enter athletes, not cows."
If our pupils are not prepared as academic athletes, they should not be entered into the competition of academia. But unfortunately, our public institutions(and sometimes the private sector too) are chasing numbers and shun quality during our selection processes. As long as they refuse to understand that; we are delivered to mediocrity and a waste of good money. I also agree with Prof. Jonathan Jansen when he said that it cannot be expected of tertiary institutions to correct twelve years of neglect during the student's higher education career. The damage is already done. Why is this a surprise to Dr Nzimande?
I agree with Jacqui, but I also think that it is quietly ignored that students enter a learning environment where English is the medium of instruction, but their schooling did not prepare them at an exit level to even remotely cope in the language of learning. I have recently had to compile the Literacy profile of students at a University of Technology. From the 18 770 students (enrolled) assessed over the past 6 years, an average of 72% of the group every year reflects Literacy levels below grade 8 (mother-tongue benchmark). This actually implies that these tertiary students with matric and university exemption is not even Functionally Literate. Functional literacy implies a minimum of 8 years of schooling in order to retain what was learnt. Academic literacy is regarded to be accomplished by at least 10 years of schooling. And now this does not even bring into account the issue of second language use. The fact is, how on earth do you expect one to learn anything, if half of it is not even understood? And then we expect thinking, application and problem-solving skills.... they can't even cope by rote-learning the knowledge component!
As a teacher in a top academic private school I had many of my students who applied for medicine.
The rules for application to medical schools were different, based on race.
Two of my students who were at ourschool since grade one were accepted with C's for Maths, Science and Life Science.
Others were denied entry to the same medical school even though they achieved 11 A's in matric.
Suffice to say the two C students have dropped out of medicine.
I do not support affirmative action not for those who are receiving a priviledged education. It's what i like to call the "Lance Armstrong" syndrome.
What Nzimande should do is employ talent spotters who can find "diamands in the rough" in disadvantged schools and give them an opportunty to overcome the legacies of the past.
I bet that most universituies conveniently take previously "disadvantaged groups" from former model C schools and private schools.
Do what SAICA'S Thuthuka project does. They go out and find these students to affirm. What it entails is t get of their butts and scoure the rural areas of our land. There are Albert Einsteins just waiting to be plucked from their empoverished environment.
We just have to be honest with ourselves. The target set by the government cannot be attained unless there is serious interventions in Maths and English from primary school level. By this, I don't mean ANA assessments at school that confirm our children's low level of literacy and numeracy year in and out, but rather intensive language and maths programmes that addresses the gaps created by the continuos changes in the curriculum. Teachers are always adjusting to new curriculum instead of teaching the basics in maths and literacy.The national department of education needs to liaise with HE on long term goals towards increasing Maths and Science graduates. It's quite unfortunate that only provinces like GAuteng can afford interventions in primary schools. Currently, the GDE has implemented the GPLMS programme that aims at re-mediating the gaps in language and numeracy in primary schools. This is a good starting point, but am a bit concerned as it has been given a lifespan of 3 years until 2014 as usually most projects are compromised according to who comes into the provincial office.
I cannot agree with you more. I recently read the last ten years' reports by Dept of Education after every research project measuring Literacy and Numeracy levels. Excellent reports spelling out where the problems lie - but I am wondering why nothing is done afterwards. Maybe it is this frequent change of decision-makers that never drives for implementation.
when we keep coming last in international math and science tests at Grade 8 level, surely the answer is staring us in the face. Its getting the foundations right when a child starts school that is going to solve the problem.
Maybe even before that - early child development and mother tongue development of syntax, vocab and listening/speaking skills together with reasoning and thinking skills.... Just talk to Grade R teachers and hear about the backlog of a unexposed/stimulated child.