n South African Journal of Higher Education - A theoretical framework for an access programme encompassing further education training : remedy for educational wastage?




The contemporary challenge facing education in South Africa is finding ways to assist the vast majority of school-leavers who do not qualify for direct entry into higher education or the world of work. Aside from the needs of a large number of failed matriculants and other learners who have dropped out of school without completing their secondary-school education, there are the special needs of adult learners in the workplace that must be taken into consideration. It is against this backdrop that the country experiences a pressing need for developing skilled graduates. Many educationalists have believed all along that the problems facing school education are so complex that the majority of school-leavers are underprepared for completing higher education successfully. There is no easy solution to this problem and backlogs may take a considerable period to overcome. Over the years, several higher education institutions (HEIs) have resorted to bridging / access programmes as a quick-fix solution to providing an alternative route for learners who could not meet the entry requirements to higher education courses. These programmes were institution-based and had very few uniform characteristics in terms of duration and curriculum; moreover, they failed to provide any certificate qualification or mobility. At the same time, statistics show that the numbers of students in need of such access courses have increased considerably over the years because of the steady reduction in the numbers of learners who pass matric well enough to enter HEIs. The introduction of the Further Education and Training (FET) band (previously known as the senior secondary phase) in the education policy is providing an opportunity for, among other things, developing a proper intermediate structure between the school sector and the higher education sector to cater for the lower achievers, as well as those who are underprepared at the school exit point. This is done by way of broadening the scope and value of the access programmes already existing in our HEIs. The current dispensation is such that securing a higher education qualification is considered to be the exit point. However, it is high time to consider providing alternative median exit points with undergraduate certificate qualifications that could serve as a part of a coherent learning pathway for those who may fail to reach the exit point of higher education degrees and diplomas without interruption. Such an action plan may help to address the burning national issues of unemployment and high crime rate. This article outlines the research that resulted in the development of a comprehensive access model encompassing FET, which may provide a threefold exit facility.


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