Students – not universities – to blame
THE ARTICLE in your issue of December 22 titled “Universities must learn from the chaos” by Suellen Shay requires a response to provide some sort of balance and context on an issue that is becoming badly distorted.
First, the problem is not with the universities but with the students, largely, but not entirely due to the grotesque mismanagement of education by the ANC.
The universities have generally done a fine job over many decades often in difficult circumstances, and in some cases, especially UCT, they are internationally highly rated. The current students, however, are failing in droves, wasting money that could be better directed. Statistics show that 85percent of undergraduate students fail, which means that 85 percent of our university funding is wasted.
But perhaps the most damning statistic comes from the Statistician General, Pali Lehohla, who points out that in the 1980s under the apartheid government, for every black graduate there were 1.2 white graduates. Today, under the ANC, for every black graduate there are six whites. This is in spite of the fact that 78percent of contact students and 83 percent of distance learning students are black.
The fact is there are many students who should not be at university at all.
A recent survey published in The Star showed that only 4 percent of the children entering school in any one year obtain a university degree within six years of leaving school. In many instances the failures are because the education system has betrayed them. However, there are others who simply do not have the IQ levels required, some who are interested in the high life, not the hard yards, and some because they are there for the wrong reasons, including the belief it will ensure them a cushy job.
One problem is that university education, far from being free, has become very expensive, not just in South Africa. The Sutton Trust report in the UK shows that British students on average leave university with debts of £44 000 (about R734800).
In view of the huge impact student debt can have on people’s early working life, the chairman of the trust, Sir Peter Lampl, suggests young people should consider higher level apprenticeships, a view echoed by some experts in Canada and Australia as well.
A much bigger problem for South Africa is the political stooges who are at university to make trouble as part of the current broader ANC black racist campaign to further vilify and marginalise whites by “decolonising education”.
The aim is presumably to put black people in total charge of all tertiary education so that standards can be manipulated to turn failure into success at the stroke of a pen à la matric. This will certainly make South African degrees worthless.
Shay’s article goes on to trot out the formula propaganda boiler-plate about Eurocentric, white, middle-class culture and neo-liberalism’s capture of higher education, hence the calls for “decolonising the curriculum”.
Many writers in your letters column have queried the notion of “decolonising” universities or curricula as this is never defined.
The public needs to appreciate that this decolonising has nothing whatever to do with colonialism as such; it is merely a useful, so-called politically correct euphemism to avoid the necessity of acknowledging that this is just another apartheid policy being dusted off.
Then there is the issue of “who the hell are these students to tell anybody how to run a university?” These are people whose brains are not fully formed, who have spent 20-odd years getting a free education, and who have contributed little if anything constructive to society.
On the contrary, they have been responsible for arson, vandalism and looting, probably by now costing the country about a billion rand, as well as regular assaults on the police and members of the public, not to mention interfering with students who want to study.
I was not present at the meeting discussed in the article, but knowing these students, I am quite prepared to accept the verdict of chaos as that is the modus operandi of this rabble. When there is a need for a reasoned argument, they hurl insults, threats or stones.
Perhaps the most telling sentence in the article is near the end when the writer says: “I had come (to the meeting) to assert my position and not to listen”.
This absolutely exemplifies the arrogant, limited, self-centred attitude of these people who then have the temerity to say the university must engage with them.
How do you engage with people who want to talk but not listen, who insist that their demands must be met before they will negotiate, who shout you down when you try to present your views, and wreak havoc and destruction if they don’t get their own way?
No, I am sorry, but what we need here is not any change by the universities but a radical transformation by the feesmust-fall campaigners from stone-throwing yahoos into civilised human beings. Greymont, Joburg
DISRUPTIVE: Student criminality has cost the country R1billion, the writer says.