n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Publieke Administrasie aan 'n omvattende universiteit : research article

Volume 47, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


Hoe kan Publieke Administrasie sinvol by 'n omvattende universiteit aangebied word? 'n Omvattende universiteit blyk niks meer te wees as 'n samevoeging van voormalige universiteitsonderrigprogramme en technikononderrigprogramme in een instelling nie. Ten einde die twee programme sinvol met mekaar te integreer, is dit nodig om diploma- en graadprogramme duidelik van mekaar te onderskei. Hierdie onderskeid kan getref word op grond van vlak en inhoud. Dit kan wees dat diploma- en graadprogramme in die toekoms sekere modules met mekaar kan deel. Hoewel diplomaprogramme veronderstel is om beroepspesifiek te wees, is die Baccalaureusprogram veronderstel om meer algemeen vormend te wees. Beide die diploma- en graadprogram aan 'n omvattende universiteit is veronderstel om studente te lei tot kritiese denke op 'n kontinuum van kompleksiteit binne gegewe kontekste. Die vernaamste bydrae wat die vak Publieke Administrasie kan lewer, is gevolglik die stimulering van kritiese denke by sy studente.

The higher education sector in South Africa has experienced various changes during the past few years : technikons are now called universities of technology; some well known universities received new, unknown names. Other universities, such as the University of South Africa (Unisa), have retained their old names while the content thereof seems to have changed. The University of South Africa is now called a comprehensive university - a category of higher education institutions of which the reasons of existence have not been spelled out clearly. Public Administration is a subject which is offered at this university. The question is raised : how is the subject Public Administration practised at a comprehensive university? In order to understand the reason of existence of a comprehensive university, this article investigates the meaning of concepts such as "higher education", "university", "traditional university", "technikon" and "university of technology". A systematic analysis of the various official documents constituting the category "comprehensive university", reveals an absence of specific definitions of this and related concepts. However, a comprehensive university within the South African context seems to be nothing more than a compilation of former university and technikon teaching programmes in one institution. A comprehensive university is thus a specific type of university. It is argued in this article that a university exists with the view of knowledge: knowing how to learn and how to know. This knowledge aim implies a never ending search for the truth. This search is the result of the ability of human beings to look beyond the obvious views on violence, poverty, crime, injustices, race and culture to the not so obvious views. Although the university is part of society, it is not necessarily supposed to think and to work exactly as society. Lecturers who are involved with the subject Public Administration are part of society, which is served by the public service. Some of them are even former public servants. However, lecturers in Public Administration who make a study of public institutions and the people working there are not supposed to think as public officials think. The main challenge in presenting the subject of Public Administration at a comprehensive university, is thus the measure in which students' way of thinking can be changed to thinking beyond the obvious. This article shows that a typical three year diploma and a three year degree differ in terms of their level of complexity and composition although they may share specific building blocks (modules). If a university upholds a never-ending aim for the truth, it implies that critical thinking, irrespective of the level of complexity, should always be part of the tuition programmes of a comprehensive university. Students in Public Administration at Unisa, whether they are enrolled for diploma or degree programmes, should thus get the opportunity to solve occupation specific problems as well as scholarly problems on a continuum of complexity in a reflexive way. By doing that, thinking in its superlative form is acknowledged and promoted. The most important contribution that the subject Public Administration at a comprehensive university can make, is the stimulation of critical thought in its students.

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