Num­ber of male stu­dents de­clin­ing

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - NON­TO­BEKO MT­SHALI

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.

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