Poor Students in South Africa To Get More Access to Universities: Interesting Details

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Have you heard of educational initiatives in South Africa? If not, it’s about time you learned about AccessEd, the charity that supports access to universities in South Africa for students from the under-represented backgrounds. Created by the Brilliant Club co-founders, AccessEd supports university access programs in the Western Cape and Gauteng in South Africa.

Schools in South Africa

Source: AccessEd Twitter

As of today, the AccessEd initiative has successfully completed its first year in 16 South African schools and 2 youth centers. Targeted at the students aged 13 to 15, the program aims to narrow the university access gap. AccessEd works to provide equal access to university education by urging the researchers and investors to engage with schools in local communities.

South Africa Education Challenges

While the higher education accessibility in South Africa has significantly improved since 1994, there is still a palpable university gap caused by economic, cultural, and race factors. Bridging the gap is crucial to reduce the unemployment rates and improve the standard of living. The research conducted by Africa Economic Brief in 2014 has shown the lowest unemployment rate of 10.8% among workers with higher education.

According to the 2017 CMI brief, only 14% of African students are enrolled in universities, in contrast with 57% of white students. Despite the majority of students in South African universities are now black (the number has reached almost 70%), the racial disparities are still evident in some higher education institutions.

The introduction of the AccessEd program has uncovered serious issues in particular South African townships. Rajbir Hazelwood, the program officer, admits that the Philippi (Cape Town) and Alexandra (Johannesburg) townships lack basic education infrastructure. Turns out, the majority of schools in South Africa have insufficient resources and are unable to provide pupils with access to ICT.

AccessEd Is Making a Difference

Lack of resources is not the biggest problem of education in South Africa – disturbing university dropout rates are. In 2016, the highest dropout rate of 54.4% was registered in the Northern Cape province. The two-thirds of students receiving the national financial aid drop out of universities for various reasons, most of them in the first year.

Source: AccessEd Twitter

Don’t be mistaken, AccessEd is not the Brilliant Club’s clone. The former focuses on ‘academic and social skills’ to help students complete their degrees in the UK. Meanwhile, the latter is meant to boost the confidence of South Africa university applicants’. However, the underlying idea of both initiatives is giving underprivileged teenagers the urge to study.

As for the postgraduate participants of the AccessEd project, they practice in teaching courses, very similar to those taught in universities, with full-blown assignments and marking. The educational initiatives like AccessEd this are meant to show students that enrolling in the university is an attainable goal.

Fighting for Education Rights

 

In South Africa, access to university education is deemed as one of the fundamental rights. High pricing policies and inadequacies in the school-level education compel African teens to fight for the fair chances. No wonder, poor black youths advocate for their rights by participating in mass protests.

At the end of 2017, the president Jacob Zuma announced that low-income students will receive full education grants starting from 2018. The announcement has caused quite a stir since it’s doubtful if the South African education system is ready to cover the expenses. The grant distribution itself is also in question.

Witnessing such a promising educational breakthrough gives hope for a future change. Initiatives like AccessEd provide graduates with better social perspectives like access to better jobs, healthcare, and standard of living. Still, South Africa has a long road ahead to establishing the equal access to higher education.

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