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close this bookAccess of Girls and Women to Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education in Africa (BREDA - UNESCO, 1999, 480 p.)
close this folderPART II
View the documentScientific, Technical and Vocational Education (STVE) for Girls in South Africa
View the documentParticipation of Girls and Women in Science, Technical and Vocational Education in the Republic of Benin
View the documentPromotion of Equal Access of Girls to Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education in Africa a Case Study of Burundi
View the documentSpecial Project on Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education for Girls in Chad
View the documentThe Participation of Girls and Women in Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education in Ethiopia
View the documentStatus Report Baseline Information on Girls in Science, Technical and Vocational Education in Ghana
View the documentPromotion of the Equal Access of Girls to Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education in the Republic of Kenya
View the documentThe Status of Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education of Girls in Madagascar
View the documentPromotion of the Equal Access of Girls to Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education in Malawi
View the documentPromotion of Equal Access of Girls to Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education in Mali
View the documentPromotion of the Equal Access to Girls in Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education in Republic of Namibia
View the documentPromotion of Equal Access of Girls to Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education in Niger
View the documentScientific, Technical and Vocational Education of Girls in Nigeria
View the documentPromotion of Equal Access of Girls to Science Education and Technical Education in Africa. Case for Uganda
View the documentThe Promotion of Equal Access of Girls to Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education in Africa Case Study of Senegal
View the documentPromotion of Equal Access of Girls to Vocational and Science Education in Swaziland
View the documentPromotion of Equal Access of Girls to Science Education and Technical/Vocational Education in Africa: The Case of Tanzania
View the documentPromotion of Equal Access for Girls to Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education in Togo
View the documentPromotion of Equal Access of Girls to Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education in Zambia
View the documentPromotion of the Equal Access of Girls to Scientific Technical and Vocational Education in Zimbabwe

Scientific, Technical and Vocational Education (STVE) for Girls in South Africa

Anastassios POURIS*

* Science Consultancy Entreprises, PO Box 37 833 Faerie Glen, South Africa

THE DAWN OF WOMEN'S GOLDEN AGE IN SOUTH AFRICA

The preface of a recent book on South African women1 describes eloquently the situation in the country today. It states:

“Never in the history of South Africa have the women of this country had the opportunities they have today - nor the choices. Never have they been more powerful. Never have they received so much attention. And never have they been so active.”

1 M. Lessing (1994) South African Women Today, Maskew Miller Longman. Cape Town, SA.

Women in South Africa leapfrogged from a position of triple oppression - that of race, class and gender - to a state of equality and rapid advancement.

The adoption in 1993 of the Interim Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and a justifiable Charter of Fundamental Rights has created the cornerstone for the gender equality of South African women. Equality for women is enshrined in the Preamble and in Chapter 3 (Fundamental Rights). It is also entrenched in the Constitutional Principles which bind the Constitutional Assembly. The Constitution also specifically prohibits discrimination on grounds such as race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or social origin.

In April 1994, South Africans took a massive leap forward and changed the country's course from white rule and apartheid to a non-racial and non-sexist democracy. The Government of National Unity (GNU) under President Nelson Mandela was inaugurated, making the shift in power. The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) of the new Government raised the position and interests of women on virtually every page and recognition is bestowed on to women.

To quote President Mandela in his State of the Nation Address:

“It is vitally important that all structures of government, including the President himself, should understand this fully: that freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression. All of us must take this on board that the objectives of the RDP will not have been realized unless we see in visible and practical terms that the condition of the women of our country has radically changed for the better, and that they have been empowered to intervene in all aspects of life as equals with any other member of society.”

Women, whose majority received for first time the right to vote in the 1994 elections, occupy currently 101 from the 400 seats of the national Assembly. There are two women ministers (Health and Public Enterprises) and three women deputy ministers (Arts, Culture Science and Technology, Welfare and Agriculture). The Speaker of Parliament is also a woman.

The latter places South Africa among the seven countries in the world with a woman in this position.

Women, whose majority first admitted in the South African Police in the 1980s are occupying currently more than 810 positions (albeit the majority on lower ranks). In the judicial system in 1994 there were 8990 posts (Dept of Justice). Four thousand, three hundred and thirty eight of these were filled by women (this represents 48,25% of the Department's personnel corps).

In the university sector, females enrolment experienced a much higher annual growth (8.3% per annum) than male enrolments (3.5% per annum) at the university level for the period 1986-1993. The result has been a more equitable representation of female students in 1993. During 1986, 40% of all equitable representation of female students in 1993. By 1995 female students were the majority, forming 52% of the student body2.

2 FRD (1996) South African Science and Technology Indicators. Foundation for Research Development Pretoria. SA.

Last but not least, there has been a marked increase in women's participation in the workforce. In 1960, women accounted for 23% of the workforce, 36% in 1995, and 41% in 1991.

These success, however, should be seen in the context of the oppressive environment during the apartheid years and the inequalities that still exist. The education system is characteristic of the period.

A major characteristic of South Africa's education is the apartheid ideology which provided the framework for restructuring the education system after 1948. Starting with the Bantu Education Act of 1953, all education in South Africa was officially divided along racial/ethnic lines to reinforce the dominance of white rule by excluding blacks from quality academic education and technical training.

The Extension of the University Education Act of 1959, which established racially based universities, applied this ideology to higher education. The University Colleges of the North and of Zululand were established for Sotho, Venda, Tsonga-speaking and Zulu-speaking African people respectively, and the Universities of Western Cape and Durban-Westville for coloureds and Indians respectively. The University of Fort Hare, which had for many decades played a significant role in improving higher education to black people from South Africa and the rest of Africa, was restricted to Xhosa-speaking Africans.

Prior to this Act the existing universities catered largely for whites. Although there was no legislation barring Africans from any university at that point, universities were differentiated by race. The Extension of University Education Act formally restricted entry to universities according to race. Africans were admitted to white universities only in cases where equivalent programmes were not offered at black universities and only after ministerial permission was obtained. The early 1980s saw the establishment of several universities in the independent “homelands” which intended to service the needs of separate development.

In keeping with international and in response to national needs a third type of higher education institution - the technikon - developed in 1978 alongside the universities and colleges for vocational training. The technikons developed within the apartheid framework which at that time defined the rest of the education system. This ultimately led to a South African higher education system. This ultimately led to a South African higher education set-up having as its main components 21 universities, 15 technikons and about 140 single discipline, vocational colleges (education, nursing and agriculture), all divided along racial lines.

The three types of institutions were supposed to have strict functional boundaries. However, substantial overlap exists with universities dominating the higher education sector.

The debate during the apartheid period was focused on issues of access by Africans and was only marginally concerned with the 'sub-issue' of gender. In 1986 only 23% of the university sector were African compared with 64% whites. In the technikons, only 7% were Africans while 83% where Whites. Between 1986 and 1993, African enrollments at universities and technikons increased at an average annual rate of 14%, compared to an average annual growth of 0.4% for whites. Total student enrollment at universities and technikons increased by an annual average of 8% during this period.

It should be emphasised, however, that much of this growth in the enrollment of African students at universities, for instance, was due to increasing numbers being registered at historically black universities (HBUs) which as a group almost doubled their student numbers, and at the distance learning universities of Vista and Unisa. In contrast, growth at the historically white universities (HWUs) was limited, with an annual increase of 1.5% against almost 10% for HBUs.

This meant that African students were educated in institutions without the necessary capacity and resources to cope adequately with the special needs of students with unfavourable school background.

Despite the increase in the number of African students their participation rate in higher education is still small. During 1993, 69.7% of the age cohort 20 to 24 years old of whites were participating in the higher education. The figure for Indians was 40.4%, for coloureds 13% and for Africans 12.1%.

In the age group 18-21 which is typically the age group for South African students to enter higher education, the participation rate of Africans increased from 5% in 1986 to 11% in 1992, while the rate of coloureds increased from 9% to 12%, Indians from 32% to 37% and whites from 61% to 65 % in the same period.

Racial inequalities in access are not limited to the total number participating in the system, but exist across disciplines, gender and are most prevalent in the more senior levels of study. The concentration of particularly African and coloured student enrollments at the HBUs and distance education institutions had a significant impact on the type and levels of programmes black students had access to. In 1993 only about 20% of FTE students following courses in the broadly defined area of the natural sciences were registered at HBUs. In 1993, the ratio of natural science enrollments in the contact historically white institutions (HWIs) to those of the contact historically black institutions (HBIs) was nearly 4:1.

Even in the HWIs, however, lack of monitoring funding through formulas and lack of political will to provide direction biases the university output (Appendix I). As a result, 74% of all B-degrees awarded in 1993 were in the social sciences and humanities.

Figure 1 shows the degrees awarded by broad field for the period 1985 to 1993.


Figure 1. Degrees awarded by broad field

Gender inequalities should be seen within the context of overall bias in favour of social sciences and humanities. The number of girls who were awarded degrees almost doubled betwee, 1986 and 1993, increasing form 12,017 to 21,211. This represented an annual growth of 8%. The number of males graduating increased by 4% over the same period from 17;002 to 23,020. In 1986, females constituted only 40% of all new graduates, but the larger growth in degrees awarded to them resulted in their representation increasing to 48% by 1993. Female representation at postgraduate level was much lower, with 33% of masters degrees and doctorates being awarded to them in 1993.

In the technikon sector gender inequalities are more evident as only 30% of the students are women

Table 1 shows the share of female students who received university bachelor and postgraduate degrees accordint to broad fields of study.

Women outnumber men at the bachelor level in health sciences and social sciences and humanities. Their presence was minimal in the field of engineering. At the postgraduate level women occupy a smaller share than in the undergraduate level across the board.

Table 1: Share of female students receiving bachelor and postgraduate degrees - 1993

Natural Sciences and agriculture

Bachelor
Degrees

Postgraduate
degrees

Natural Sciences and agriculture

39

36

Engineering and architecture

14

13

Health sciences

66

57

Social sciences and humanities

53

45

The staff composition in higher education reflects more the realities of the past. Those disparities become more apparent when the distribution of permanent research and teaching staff is considered. In 1993, 68% of total academic (teaching/research) staff employed were men compared to 32% women. The disparities increase with rank, so much so that it is at the senior levels that the absence of women is most conspicuous. In 1982, across the universities, 26% of all lecturers, 15% of associate professors and 6% of professors were women.

This reality is also reflected on the assessment of researchers by the Foundation for Research Development (FRD). FRD is a statutory body promoting research in the natural sciences and engineering by providing funding support. The decision to support an individual and the level of support depend solely on the outcome of an evaluation of the candidate, based on his track record at the time of evaluation.

What the assessment sets out to address is the likelihood that the researcher, if supported, will produce good research. This is done through extrapolation of the candidate's past research and in particular his or her most recent work. The individual's scientific stature is judged by the quality of publications, patents and internal reports, by invited contributions to conferences both national and international, collaboration with fellow scientists in interdisciplinary or advanced fields, by the ability to attract others including postgraduate students to his or her research activity, by the candidate's leadership and by those scholastic activities related to research.

RESEARCHERS ARE ASSESSED AND CLASSIFIED TO SIX DIFFERENT CATEGORIES

Table 2: Description of FRD rating categories

Category

Description

A

Researchers who are without doubt accepted by the international science, engineering or technology community as being amongst the leaders for the high quality of their research outputs

B

Researchers who enjoy considerable international recognition as independent researchers for the high quality of their research outputs

C

Established researchers who as individuals or as members of a team produce research outputs of an international standard which are appreciated by the science, engineering or technology community either internationally or locally.

P

Researchers (normally younger than 35 years of age) who have obtained their doctoral or equivalent degrees during the past five years and who, on the basis of exceptional potential as researchers during their doctoral studies and/or early postdoctoral careers, are highly likely to be recognised by the international community as being amongst the future leaders in their field or as enjoying considerable international recognition as independent researchers of high quality by the next evaluation

Y

Researchers (normally younger than 35 years of age) who have obtained their doctoral or equivalent degrees during the past five years and who, on the basis of the recent research output emanating from their doctoral studies and/or early post-doctoral research careers, shown promise of establishing themselves as researchers by the next evaluation

L

Researchers who have demonstrated potentional in their career, but who were impeded by external factors from realising their potential, and who show promise to establish themselves as researchers within the period until the next evaluation

Table 2 shows the percentage of women with ratings in the various categories for the period 1984 to 1996. As FRD is the only funding source for academic research in the natural sciences and engineering in the country, the table reflects the situation of women academics in the higher education sector. Women are minimally represented A category (top echelon) while they represent 25% of researchers at the bottom of the scale.

Table 3. Percentage women with valid FRD ratings

Ratings

1984

1990

1992

1996

A

0

0

0

2.2

B

4.5

3.3

3.4

4.7

C

4.6

7.8

7.9

9.8

P

0

2 7.8

25.0

25.9

Y

3.6

18.5

21.1

25.0

L




14.7

FACTORS DETERMINING THE ORIENTATION OF GIRLS TOWARDS SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

The orientation of women towards science and technology in South Africa is affected on the one hand by the same gender attitudes prevailing internationally (women are better as nurses and secretaries and men as welders and engineers) and on the other by the local culture and stage of development.

The former are the subject of international studies and we will refrain from repeating them here.

Probably the most important factor determining science and technology attitudes in the country is the level of mathematics and science education at school level.

In the past, most African pupils (both boys and girls) did not have the opportunity to choose science and mathematics as subjects at school, or opt for careers in science. While the situation is changing, there is still a shortage of appropriately qualified science and mathematics teachers at African schools, which tends to slow down the pace of change. Inadequate tuition in mathematics resulted largely from the fact that only about 63% of the mathematics teachers at African secondary schools have professional teacher-education qualifications, and relatively few of these teachers have been trained at universities. In 1994, there was an average of more than 137 pupils per mathematics teacher, and about 215 pupils per qualified mathematics teacher, at African schools.

In 1993, less than 20% of all Africans who passed Std 10 had mathematics or physical science as subjects, and of those that did, only about 20% passed these subjects on the higher grade. Although there has been a gradual improvement since 1990 in the percentage of African pupils obtaining a school-leaving certificate with mathematics and physical science as subjects, there is still a considerable gap to be closed between Africans and the other population groups. An indication of the problem is the African pass rate of only 25% for mathematics (compared with 95% for whites) and 50% for physical science (compared with 98% for whites).

The available of female role models in the fields of health and educational services coupled with the growth of and needs for these professions provides an incentive to those with the necessary qualifications to more in these fields. Although this may be advantageous to women, it redirects them away from other professions in the fields of science and technology at the same time.

The gender differentiation has to some extent been politically engineered. The following statement made by HF Verwoerd provides an indication of the prevailing thinking of the time.

“As a woman is by nature so much better fitted for handling young children, and as the great majority of Bantu children are to be found in lower classes of primary school, it follows that there should be far more female than male teachers. The department will therefore... declare the assistant post in... primary schools to be female teachers' posts... Quotas will be laid down at the training schools as regards numbers of male and female candidates respectively which may be allowed to enter for the course... This measure will in the course of time bring about a considerable saving of funds which can be devoted to....more children at school.”

Similarly, it has been argued that the cycle of gender differentiation is reproduced and reinforced in the classroom via the curriculum as well as via teacher expectations and the roles that the male and female teachers perform. Truscott3 in her comparative analysis of subjects taken by boys and girls it argues that it.

“Illustrates the power relationships in South African society: while men are being trained in Commerce, Law and Engineering to prepare them well paid careers in business and management. Black women study Languages, Education and Social Sciences to prepare them for lower paid jobs in teaching or servicing professions.”

3 Truscott, K. 1992, Gender in Education NEPI report.

Thomson4 under the auspices of the South African Council for Natural Sciences, investigated the factor contributing to losing women from science and technology some 10 years ago. The investigation included interviews of a large number of scientists, male and female, and other stakeholders. The reasons identified included.

· “career interruption due to children, with little provision for 'catching up', especially in rapidly moving fields of science;

· poor science teaching, and attitudes instilled at school, namely that women should not opt for science as a career; too little time for research, often due to heavy teaching loads;

· poor maternity leave conditions;

· inadequate child-care facilities;

· a tax structure that discouraged working women;

· poor salaries;

· inflexible working conditions;

· active discrimination in the workplace (especially, although not exclusively, in industry);

· financial discrimination in the areas of pension, medical aid, housing subsides, etc;

· a loss of benefits if an employee changes to part-time employment as a result of home commitments;

· employer's lack of understanding of maternal crises;

· the stigma of being a 'working mother' and neglecting children.

4 Thomson, J.A. 1994 “Women in Science” in M. Lessing South African Woman Today.

Some of the solutions advocated to overcome career interruptions included maternity leave benefits and retraining courses to bridge the gap on the return to work. It also suggested convenient child-care facilities and the use of modern communication systems to enable female scientists to keep up to date with their work and to pursue it at home.

The group also suggested introducing a system in which women could switch between full-time jobs without losing their benefits. In addition, industry in particular would have to become more flexible with respect to hours and place of work if they wished to attract women.

Improved job incentives for school science teachers as well as acknowledgement of their essential role in the community was suggested as a solution to the schooling problem. It has also been proposed:

· introducing a tax system that encourages women to work;

· providing salaries that encourage women to pursue their chosen field;

· removing discrimination in pensions, housing subsidies, medical aid, and so forth;

· re-educating employers and husbands in their attitudes towards working women;

· urging husbands to assume more responsibility in the home and with children.

3- MEASURES PROMOTING EQUALITY

Gender equality in South Africa is entrenched in the Constitution. The principle of equality is enshrined in the Preamble:

We therefore through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic so as to:

Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights; lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law; improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person.

In the founding Provisions:

1. The Republic of South Africa is one sovereign democratic state founded on the following values:

a. human dignity, the achievement of equality and advancement of human rights and freedoms.

b. Non-racialism and non-sexism.

c. Supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law.

d. Universally adult suffrage, a national common voters roll, regular elections, and a multi-party system of democratic government, to ensure accountability, responsiveness and openness.

3.

3.1. There is a common South African citizenship:

3.2. All citizens are:

a. equally entitled to the rights, privileges and benefits of citizenship; and

b. equally subject to the duties and responsibilities of citizenship;

c. national legislation must provide for the acquisition, loss and restoration of citizenship.

In the Bill of Rights:

9. (1) Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.

10. (2) Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms. To promote the achievement of equality, legislative and other measures.

10. (3) The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language, and birth.

10. (4) No person may unfair discrimate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds in terms of subsection (3). National legislations must be enacted to prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination.

10. (5) Discrimination on one or more of the grounds listed in subsection(3) is unfair unless it is established that discrimination is fair.

and in other provisions. Furthermore, the Constitution provides for the establishment of a Commission on Gender Equality.

The functions of the Commission are stated as follows:

187

(1) The Commission for Gender Equality must promote respect for gender equality and the protection, development and attainment of gender equality

(2) The Commission for Gender Equality has the power, as regulated by national legislation, necessarily to perform its functions, including the power to monitor, investigate, research, educate, lobby, advise and report on issues concerning gender equality.

(3) The Commission for Gender Equality has the additional powers and functions prescribed by national legislation.

In the higher education area the recently published report A Framework for Transformation (1996) by the National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE) places particular emphasis on gender equality and make specific recommendations related to redress. The report places particular emphasis on staff, stating:

“The need to make the higher education staff profile more representative is undisputed. However, the barriers to access are complex and the problem cannot be confirmed to redressing apartheid's legacy. For example, in the case of gender, broader social constraints on women such as family responsibilities and institutional policies and practices discriminate, either consciously or unconsciously, against women. In addition, the challenge to improve the skills and competence of higher education staff is by no means unique to South Africa and is being tackled universally. In 1990, only 39% of the total permanent academic staff in universities had doctorates as their highest formal qualification. For the historically disadvantaged universities, the figures was 30% and for the historically white universities 45%”.

The Commission identifies two trusts as amendable to redress -employment equity and staff development. For the former in line with the Department of Labour Green Paper on Employment and Occupational Equity the Commission recommends that higher education institutions should develop gender and equity goals in a repeatable annual planning process. For the latter the Commission recommends:

· “Support for academic staff to improve their formal qualifications and, in particular, to attain masters and doctoral qualifications (this is of particular importance in the light of the Commission's recommendation to incorporate nursing, agricultural and education colleges into universities and technikons), to develop their research profiles and to enhance their skills in curriculum development, course design and evaluation and teaching methodologies.

· Enhancement of planning and management capacity at institutional, regional and national levels.

· Support for technical, library, information technology and administrative staff to upgrade their skills and expertise.

More specifically the recommendations for development of capacity in key areas are as follows:

a. All higher education institutions should develop human resource development plans, including employment equity goals. These should be submitted to the Higher Education Council (HEC° as supporting documents to the institutions overall three years-plans.

b. The HEC should be charged with responsibility for developing a framework for human resource development in higher education. This will entail the following key functions, some of which may be carried out by the Branch of Higher Education and others by other organisations on agency basis; undertaking an ongoing human resource audit of higher education; publishing an annual equity report on the profile of staff in higher education; assisting and advising institutions on setting and achieving equity goals, and in developing and implementing human resource development policies and programmes (for example, by disseminating “best practice” approaches); and allocating earmarked funding for human resource development, including initiatives designed to enhance academic staff skills in teaching and curriculum development, which should be contingent on submitting development plans to attain equity goals;

c. In view of the importance of educational development in improving student access and success, formula funding provision should recognise the need for institutions to establish and maintain small, professional higher education development structures. The institutional factors in the formula should generate explicit funding for recurrent 'academic development' (AD) teaching initiatives. The AD structures should be responsible for guiding and coordinating AD work at institutional faculty and department level. They should also form the core of a national network designed to foster inter-institutional cooperation and regional and national projects in such matters as access programmes, curriculum and materials design.

d. The HEC should provide policy and development support to promote quality teaching and learning in higher education institutions. This will entail the following key functions, some of which may be carried out by the Branch of Higher Education, and others by varied organisations on an agency basis: the allocation of earmarked funding for developmental projects designed to enhance equitable access and success in higher education, advising higher education institutions on the development of AD programmes, and initiating research and development projects in areas such as access, curriculum and materials design5.

5 NDHE. 1996. A Framework for Transformation. National Commission of Higher Education.

The White Paper on Education and Training (Government Gazette n° 16312 of 15 March 1995) makes also provision on gender equity.

Paragraphs 63 to 69 are relevant and are quoted below:

63. The Constitution recognises the specific nature of gender inequality by establishing a Commission on Gender Equality. The national education system represents the single largest organisation in the nation. By virtue of its educational function, it has great potential influence on gender relations and on the respective career paths of men and women. However, within the education system there are worrying disparities between girls and boys, and many girls and women suffer unfair discrimination and ill-treatment.

64. Boys and young men drop out of schools at a far higher rate than girls and young women. Girls and young women exhibit significantly narrower subject and career choices than boys and young men. Women are overwheemingly represented in the teaching service, but are poorly represented among the ranks of school principals, and are barely in middle and senior management positions in education departments. Such phenomena have long histories and complex causes. The reasons, for the poor representation of women in educational management are probably to be found as much in the values and gender role patterns of South African families and communities, as in the patriarchal culture of the South African bureaucracy.

65. At another level of gender relations, in many schools and other education institutions, including the most senior, social relations among students, and between staff and students, exhibit sexism and male chauvinism. Sexual harassment of girls and women students and women teachers, as well as acts of violence against women, are common in many parts of the education system, both on and off campus.

66. The entire situation must change. While appreciating that the problems are deep-seated within the society at large, the Ministry of Education believes that the place to begin is within the education system itself. The Ministry is confident of forging a strong partnership between itself and the provincial Ministries of Education on this issue, and will seek collaboration also from the technikons and universities. The understanding and support of organisations of the teaching profession and student organisation will be greatly welcomed.

67. As a first step, the Ministry of Education proposes to appoint a Gender Equity Task Team led by a full-time Gender Equity Commissioner who shall report to the Director-General. The terms of reference of the Task Team will be to investigate and advise the Department of Education on the establishment of a permanent Gender Equity Unit in the Department of Education, initially with seconded or attached staff. In cooperation with provincial Departments of Education, through the Heads of Education Departments Committee, the Gender Equity Unit will study and advise the Director-General on all aspects of gender equity in the education system, and in particular:

(1) Identify means of correcting gender imbalances in enrollment, dropout, subject choice, career paths, and performance

(2) Advise on the educational and social desirability and legal implications of single-sex schools

(3) Propose guidelines to address sexism in curricula, textbooks, teaching, and guidance

(4) Propose affirmative action strategies for increasing the representation of women in professional leadership and management positions, and for increasing the influence and authority of women teachers

(5) Propose a complete strategy, including legislation, to counter and eliminate sexism, sexual harassment and violence throughout the education system

(6) Develop close relations with the organised teaching profession, organised student bodies, the Education Labour Relations Council, national women's organisations, and other organisation whose cooperation would be essential in pursuing the aims of the unit.

68. The Gender Equity Commissioner will be expected to establish close working relations with the national Commission on Gender Equality

69. These proposals have been strongly supported by the public in their submissions on the draft of this document. The Ministry of Education intends to put them formally to the Council of Education Ministers without delay, to request their support for cooperative action on gender equity, and their consideration for a similar action within the provincial ministries. Similar requests will be made to the representative bodies of technikons and universities, and to the organizations representing teachers and students.

Based on the above, the Department of Education has established the Gender Equity Task Team. Its terms of reference are to investigate and advise the Department of Education on the establishment of a permanent Gender Equity Unit in the Department of Education. The advice should include, inter alia, the following:

· To investigate and advise on the establishment of a permanent Gender Equity Unit (GEU).

· To advise on the purpose and functions of a GEU if its establishment is recommended, due cognisance being taken of the quoted paragraph 67 of the White Paper.

· If the establishment of a GEU is recommended, advice on its composition, functioning and infrastructure, including a detailed plan for setting it up.

· If the establishment of a GEU is not recommended, advice on how gender matters should be dealt with.

· In giving effect to its terms of reference the national and provincial education departments, providers of education, stakeholders, international education community and the Commission on Gender Equity should be consulted and involved.

The composition of the Task Team should be as follows:

· An interim full-time Gender Equity in Education Commissioner who will act as chairperson.

· Between four and seven Task Team members.

· The appointment of the Task Team will be done by the Minister of Education following

· Nominations obtained from stakeholders, in education, and

· Proposals for appointment made by a selection committee appointed by the Minister

Other measures for the promotion of gender equity include the establishment of gender equity unit within the departments of Justice and Trade and Industry and the establishment of the world's first full-time court for sexual offences. The Court opened in Wyneberg, Cape Town in 1993 to alleviate the trauma that invariably accompanies the hearing of rape cases and to deal with cases more swiftly and effectively. A team approach is adopted which includes not only those involved in the legal process but also social workers, psychologists and medical practitioners.

Policies promotions gender equity appear to permeate the total of the South African society. However, real equality will be dependent on the way in which legal rights are translated into reality.

DESCRIPTION OF SCIENCE EDUCATION IN SOUTH AFRICA

The education system in South Africa is currently in a transition phase. Enrollment policies, curricula, inter-institutional transfers, disciplinary direction and so on are under investigation.

Until recently curricula, although specifying goals, aims of objectives as points of departure were, in fact, content-based. They were organised in terms of prescribed and optional content which was to be offered at specific stages and for fixed periods in institutions of learning. In schools, learners' progress from one class to the next depended largely on the extent to which they had mastered (or memorised) the required content (e.g. fiver of the six subjects, which should include pass marks in two languages). Assessment took place at various points during the year and in year end examinations, but learners could progress from one class to the next at the end of a year only.

Figure 2 shows the system and the way it functioned up until recently. Primary education and the first years of secondary education were compulsory except for the African population. After the first democratic election the State President announced that primary education become compulsory for all the population. Up to Std, 7; general science and mathematics are compulsory subjects at South African schools. From Std 8 onwards, however, students make their own subject choices, and only 60.9% of African Std 8 pupils opted for mathematics in 1994. In the same year, only 32.8% of pupils in Std 10. The girls enrollments in 1994 for Stds 8,9 and 10 was 45.9%, 40.7% and 30.9 respectively while for the boys enrollments were 62%, 43.9% and 35.3%.

Enrollments for physical sciences were worst. Girl enrollments for Stds 8; 9 and 10 for 1994 were 21.4%, 19.2% and 16% while for boys the respective figures were 25.1%, 23.5% and 20.9% These figures should be contrasted with these of the subject of biology where the rates for girls were 80.2%, 81.8% and 84.9% respectively and for boys 80.1%, 81% and 85.3%.

English, Afrikaans and Biology were the top subjects favoured by African pupils (more than 85%) while on the bottom of the list were economics, physical science and accountancy (less than 13%).

In 1994, most African Std 6 and 7 pupils were enrolled for mathematics on the higher grade. About 6% of African pupils in Std 8, 10% in Std 9, and 30% in Std 10 took mathematics on the standard grade. In 1993, 37% of whites, 86% of coloureds and 26% of Indians enrolled for standard- or lower- grade mathematics. For the most part, it appears that pupils prefer to take subjects on the higher grade because a fail on this grade will invariably result in a pass on a lower grade.

Comparatively few African students enrol for mathematics in Std 10. In 1993, for example, only 27.3% took mathematics as a matriculation subject, while 73.2% of whites did. In the same year, 72.2% of Indian and 41.7% of couloured Std 10 pupils enrolled for mathematics. The picture is no different for physical science. The breakdown of enrollments for Std 10 physical science in 1993 showed that only 11.7% of African enrolled for the subject, compared with 49.6% for whites, 40.4% for Indians and 21.2% for couloureds. In 1994, there was a slight improvement in the situation as demonstrated by the fact that 32.9% of African matriculants enrolled for mathematics and 12.7% for exemption, while 41.7% of white and 50.6% of Indian candidates did so.

The enrollments rates in Stds 8, 9 and 10 obviously affect the direction the students follow at university level.

Students can enter university according to the grade in their matriculation exemption. The matriculation exemption concept has been in existence since the establishment of the Joint Matriculation Board (JMB) in 1917, Matriculation exemption is a standardised university entrance requirement, based on certain minimal performance criteria and subject choices in the Std 10 final examinations. Recent recommendations by the NCHE, in a bid to make higher learning accessible to all South Africans, propose the scrapping of matriculation exemption requirements once acceptable alternative selection criteria and mechanisms are in place.

Failure rates by African matriculation candidates are a cause of considerable concern in the country. In 1994, over half of all African candidates (51.5%) failed Std 10 compared to 2.7% for white candidates and 12.5% for coloured candidates. In 1994, over 160 000, or 37% of Africans in Std 10, were repeaters putting extra strain on already crowded classrooms, and costing the country dearly in terms of utilisation of human resources and financial support.

The racial inequality was evident in the success rates in mathematics, and physical science in the matriculation exams. In 1993, a total of 23.957, or 25.2% of African pupils writing the Std 10 mathematics examination passed, compared with 95.4% for whites, 80% for Indians and 78.2% for coloured. Similarly, only 49.9% of African Std 10 candidates writing the physical science examination passed, compared with 98.1% for whites, 97.7% for Indians and 96.5% for coloureds. On average, about 24% of African candidates passed the Std 10 mathematics examination and 45% passed physical science between 1991 and 1994. The relatively higher pass rate in physical science is probably due to the fact that mathematics is a prerequisite subject for physical science, and consequently a smaller and more select number of pupils enrol for physical science. (About 13% of African std 10 pupils are enrolled for physical science compared to 33% for mathematics). On average, about 43% of African Std 10 biology candidates passed between 1991 and 1994, compared to about 88% for the other population groups.

The quality of teachers has been identified as one of the problem issues in the schooling system in the country and the Ministry of Education commissioned the National Teacher Audit.6 The report indicated that training at about 90% of the country's 109 colleges of education failed to prepare student teachers for the challenges of the new South Africa and the 21st century. The audit found that only two-thirds of the teaching force was qualified, that there was little correlation between rank and qualification; and that a serious shortage of mathematics and science teachers existed. The consortium involved in the National Teacher Education Audit defined qualified, unqualified and under-qualified teachers as follows:

· A qualified teacher in South Africa, according to the official norm, is one with at least a Std 10 certificate (M) and a three-year professional qualification (M+3).

· An unqualified teacher has no professional qualifications, but may have an academic qualifications such as a degree.

6 National Department of Education. 1995. National Teacher Education Audit Synthesis Report, Pretoria.

The curriculum has also been identified as a target for reform and the Department of Education has set up the necessary structures for reform.7 The restructuring is based on the Withe Paper on Education and Training of March 1995, which states:

“New flexible and appropriate curricula are needed that cut across traditional divisions of skills and knowledge, with standards defined in terms of learning outcomes and appropriate assessment practices, in order to provide a more meaningful learning experience, and prepare them effectively for life's opportunities and an integrated approach to education and training which will link one level of learning to another and enable successful learners to progress to higher levels without restrictions from any starting point in the education and training system.”

7 Department of Education. 1996 Structures for the Development of National Policy regarding Curricula and Related issues. Department of Education. Pretoria.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF FUTURE STRATEGIES AND PLANS

The South African education system is currently in the process of a major overhaul.

The country is moving away from a content-based, prescriptive and inflexible curricula for education towards a system based on curriculum framework (CF°. CF purports to provide norms and standards for curriculum development and design by allowing the development of flexible, relevant learning programmes and materials which take cognisance of particular needs constraints and realities. The proposed CF in South Africa is focused on portability (transferability of credits and qualifications across providers of learning and different economics and professional sectors) and is outcome based.

The higher education system is moving towards an integrated planned approach where funding and regulations will be utilised to rectify racial, gender and disciplinary inequalities.

Gender equality is entrenched in the Constitution and gender equality units and commissions will attempt to identify leverage points and transform the national landscape.

7- APPENDICES

APPENDIX I: WHERE ARE OUR UNIVERSITIES GOING?

South African Journal of Science Vol. 87 June 1997

NEWS AND VIEWS/NUUS EN MENINGS

South African Universities are producing progressively more arts graduates than those in science and engineering.

Many advisory and policy shaping bodies in South Africa have repeatedly commented on the importance of producing appropriately educated manpower. For example, the Economic Advisory Council recommends changing the balance between academic and vocational education, and the Department of Trade and Industry, in its recent “Report of Technology Policy and Strategy” advocated the creation of more technology orientated manpower.

The accompanying figure illustrates trends in the production of graduates by some of the country' universities for the period 1984-1988. Graduates (at both Bachelor and Honours level) of the faculties of Science, Medicine, Agriculture, Dentistry, Veterinary Science and Engineering have been combined in each case where appropriate (science' graduates), and compared with those jointly produced by all the other faculties ('arts' graduates). This relation correlates strongly what might be called the universities' institutional ethos (Ashworth, Higher Education Review, 58-67, (1983). Those universities producing approximately twice as many science as arts graduates are, according to Ashworth, the 'technology universities', those producing roughly equal numbers of each are the 'general universities', and those for which the ratio is about 1:2 are the 'arts universities'.

The graph shows how South African universities are classified according to these criteria using data submitted to the Department of National Education (DNE).

It is evident that South Africa did not have any 'technological' or 'general' universities in 1988 (with the exception of the Medical University of Southern Africa, which is not shown in the graph). What is also conspicuous is the tendency of the universities to produce more arts graduates while producing the same number of science students between 1984 and 1988. Of the 12 universities included in the graph, only one (Durban-Westville) shows a larger increase in the number of science graduates than of arts graduates. The universities of Pretoria, Natal and Orange Free State, that could be classified as 'general' universities in 1984, have clearly been transformed into 'arts' universities (the universities of Vista, Forte Hare and the North, not shown in the graph, lie on the horizontal axis). There can be several reasons for this trend. Students may simply prefer the arts and humanities to science and engineering, and private sector interests may influence disproportionately the expansion of the various faculties. It is also probable that the financing of the universities by the state affects the relative growth of faculties. While there is little to be done about the preferences of the private sector to finance university studies, and any effort to inform school-leavers about the desirability of studying science and technology is a long-term one, the public funding mechanism of the universities appears to need re-examination.

Universities receive funds from two public sources: directly from the Department of National Education, and agency funds from the Scientific Councils. The DNE funds universities according to a formula which takes into consideration the number of students enrolled, degrees awarded, and the publication record. Different amounts are allocated for science and arts students. It seems, however, to cost much less to produce an arts graduate than one in science - for example, a psychology graduate costs about one-tenth of what is needed to produce a graduate engineer at some universities. These differences are not fully reflected in the differentiated fee structure for courses, nor in the DNE's rather complex funding formula, which currently allocates approximately only 50S% more funds per head to subsidize science and engineering students than for those in the social sciences and humanities.

A consequence of this is that South African universities make a higher 'profit' from arts students. It is therefore understandable that, at a time of declining state subsidies to universities, the ratio of arts to science students should be shifting in favour of the former. Should we wish to reverse this trend, as many now advocate, the principal 'policy instrument' available is the DNE's funding formula. (The Scientific Councils appear to be either unable or unwilling to influence the type of graduate students produced by our universities). This formula should be carefully re-examinated if we are to stand any chance of shifting the output of science and arts graduates by our universities to the benefit of the country.

APPENDIX II: THE SCHOOL SYSTEM IN SOUTH AFRICA


Figure 2: The school system in South Africa

APPENDIX III

FEMALE STUDENTS IN TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS

Percentage of enrolments of female students in universities at bachelors and honours

Discipline

1985

1993

Natural sciences

33,6

36,6

Agricultural

17,0

27,1

Engineering

4,1

8,6

Architecture

21,7

26,0

Health sciences

55,0

64,6

Social Sciences

44,7

52,7

Education

56,3

62,5

Business

29,8

39,0

Law

26,6

38,0

Other humanities

55,1

63,4

Percentage of enrolments of female students at technikons at national and national higher diploma (%)

Discipline

1985

1993

Natural Sciences

39,1

35,8

Agricultural

26,8

28,4

Engineering

4,0

4,3

Architecture

19,5

15,5

Health Sciences

56,3

57,4

Social sciences

36,6

52,7

Education

14,2

35,9

Business

31,5

30.3

Law

22,0

45,4

Other humanities

69,1

63,7

APPENDIX IV

FEMALE INSTRUCTORS IN SCIENCE EDUCATION8

8 Cross classification of gender-discipline for staff across the board is not available. The FRD classification provides an indication of women's position in the research field in sciences and engineering in the higher education. The number of instruction/research professionals with permanent appointment by rank, gender and age refer to staff employed at universities across all disciplines.

Percentage of women with a valid FRD rating

Rating

1984

1990

1992

1996

A

0,0

0,0

0,0

2,2

B

4,5

3,3

3,4

4,7

C

4,6

7,8

7,9

9,8

P

0,0

27,8

25,0

25,9

Y

3,6

18,5

21,1

25,0

L

-

-

-

14,7

Number of women with a valid FRD rating

Rating

1984

1990

1992

1996

A

0

0

01

1

B

6

6

6

10

C

13

35

37

54

P

0

5

5

7

Y

5

23

28

40

L

-

-

-

5

Total

24

69

76

117

Total number of applications for evaluation (February 1996) = 2184
Total number of applications from women (February 1996) = (10.9%)

Utilisation of instruction/research professionals (in FTE)

CESM Category

1986

1993

Agriculture and renewable natural resources

56,21

54,96

Architecture and environmental design

78,18

73,36

Arts, visual and performing

197,47

169,33


a. music

10,13

7,84


b. history and visual arts

35,17

37,78


c. all others arts, visual and performing

152,17

123,71

Business, commerce and management sciences

293,47

499,49

Communication

40,44

48,02

Computer science and data processing

99,53

152,30

Education

22,68

37,83

Engineering and engineering and technology

360,39

412,96

Health care and health sciences

101,54

154,28


a. nursing, rehabilitation and therapy, emergency services, hospital and health care administration, public health

21,11

62,56


b. all other health care and health sciences

80,43

91,71

Home economics

79,53

90,59

Industrial arts, trades and technology

48,72

50,18

Languages, linguistics and literature

68,14

91,03

Law

49,95

112,21

Libraries and museums

2,58

8,53

Life sciences and physical sciences

134,99

175,14

Mathematical sciences

91,56

92,52

Military sciences

0,26


Philosophy, religion and theology

0,17

1,33

Physical education, health education and leisure

5,06

6,16

Psychology

13,01

14,26

Public administration and social services

29,78

153,58

Social sciences and social studies

57,60

68,26

TOTAL

1886,34

2473,09

Number of instruction/research professional women (1986)

Rank

Vice Rector

Director

Associate Director

Senior Lecturer

Lecturer

Other

Age

M

F

T

M

F

T

M

F

T

M

F

T

M

F

T

M

F

T

<25

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

10

22

32

0

0

0

10

22

32

25-34

1

0

1

27

4

33

72

17

89

356

225

581

0

1

1

456

247

708

35-44

7

0

7

112

12

124

186

31

217

280

136

416

0

1

1

585

180

765

45-54

6

0

6

81

12

93

91

14

105

121

73

194

0

0

0

299

99

398

55-59

2

0

2

32

3

35

25

3

28

32

22

54

0

0

0

91

28

119

60-62

0

0

0

6

1

7

9

3

11

8

4

12

0

1

1

24

8

32

63-65

1

0

1

6

1

7

6

0

6

12

1

13

0

0

0

25

2

27

66-69

0

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

0

6

1

7

0

0

0

6

2

8

>70

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

3

0

0

0

3

0

3

Total

17

0

17

264

34

298

389

68

457

828

484

1312

0

3

3

1499

588

2087