Number of male students declining
THE NUMBER of male student enrolments in South Africa’s higher education institutions is plummeting.
If the trend continues, it will put a spanner in the wheels of the Department of Higher Education and Training’s efforts to drive gender equality in the sector – something that’s far from being achieved.
Speaking at the Commission on Gender Equality’s hearings on gender transformation in the higher education sector, the department’s deputy directorgeneral for corporate services, Lulama Mbobo, said that while attempts to improve access to higher education for blacks and women had succeeded somewhat, the pace had been slow.
“The proportion of males, however, has decreased significantly. This should be a cause for concern if the trend continues because gender equity should not be at the expense of any gender. Nonetheless, significant fields of study such as engineering and science remain male dominated.”
Attempts to increase women participation in academia remained a priority for the department, and because a large cohort of the academics in the system were nearing retirement age, the department was on a drive to recruit and retain black and female staff in academic posts.
“The emancipation of women in society is not a favour but a necessity,” the department’s director-general, Gwebinkundla “Gwebs” Qonde, said.
He said the department had set aside R145 million for next year towards the Staffing South African Universities Framework (SSAUF).
This initiative is aimed at the recruitment of 200 young academic staff a year. These will be provided with financial support.
“A large number of students, when they finish their studies, find that there’s social pressure that they have to quickly get a job in order to provide for their families. Now this framework (SSAUF) we have developed is taking that into account,” Qonde said.