Solutions for education providers and learners

The 2017 students in their final year of school are more than half way there. Each of them will be anxious about their upcoming exams, but also seriously pondering their futures.

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In South Africa the Presidential Commission report on the feasibility of free higher education and training is about to be released. The situation in the country, therefore, remains uncertain. If the report disappoints various factions this uncertainty will increase and in fact a number of ‘free education’ protest groups have threatened further demonstrations even if the report release is delayed.

The volatile political situation puts the future of higher education and training in South Africa at risk. Instead of focusing on students, on their tuition and learning, the higher education and training institutions are doing everything they can to prepare for another uprising.

Protest aftermath

Universities are now employing fingerprint sensor technologies to monitor those coming onto and then those that leave their campuses. They have also employed private security companies to prevent disruptions during exam season. The levels of security amount to double that which was evident in 2015.

The risk of disturbance in South Africa has persisted with mid-year exams threatened. The University of the Western Cape recently deployed more security guards to exam venues after the student-run Fees Will Fall Facebook group wrote:

“We call students and the workers to be united in this clarion call of not allowing exams to continue until the management responds properly to these grievances.”

Increasing numbers of CCTV cameras have also been strategically placed around campuses in South Africa. They monitor activity in an effort to ensure the safety of students and the establishments themselves.

Education and training institutions in South Africa are not only facing security issues, but also battling concerns regarding quality. Education and training institutions in South Africa are not only facing security issues, but also battling concerns regarding quality. According to a survey conducted by PPS, a financial services company, 43% of South African engineers believe that engineering qualifications currently offered by South African tertiary institutions are “inadequate”.

Yet, with good quality engineering credentials, becoming an engineer in South Africa can be one of the most lucrative employment choices. Career Junction’s latest salary review reports that the highest paid engineers in South Africa are civil/structural engineers who, in their most senior positions, make R70,301 ($5255) per month. Environmental engineers, mechanical engineers and electrical engineers are right behind them with an average senior salary of R62,988 ($4709) per month.

In this complex environment tertiary education providers in South Africa have to remain agile. During the tense class and exam disruptions, towards the end of 2016 in South Africa, a top-tier university’s engineering faculty explained how they were able to keep their students safe and the education process on track:

“Students were supported online, and for those with limited resources access, they were given online facilities on campus as well, through telecommunication service providers and local Wi-Fi.”

The alternative is online

Education practitioners in South Africa need to look at alternative, but effective learning platforms.Excellence in education (attained without disruption) and the availability of relevant and high quality qualifications are essential for students and the future of the country.

To this end interactive online technologies are being considered and adopted. The Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) is one such college using this approach to learning and offering internationally recognized and accredited qualifications. They have four Bachelors of Science degrees in engineering streams: Mechanical, Electrical, Industrial Automation, and Civil and Structural.

This is how the Dean of Engineering at EIT, Steve Mackay, summarised the higher education they offer, “We have some exciting opportunities for students. We use a live, interactive online method of learning, but employ dedicated Learning Support Officers to assist and encourage students throughout their studies. Our international and highly qualified lecturers have industry experience and the degrees themselves are designed by experts in industry.”

Students can opt to study a three-year full time online engineering program, or do a five-year, part-time online program while they work. If you are about to leave school and have enjoyed your maths and science lessons why not contact the college to find out what your options are?

The unique online platform of learning used by EIT includes remote and cloud-based laboratories that can be viewed and utilized from across the globe. And the online, interactive classrooms are a hub of activity where industry-experienced lecturers hold live sessions with students.

As the Father of the Nation of South Africa commented,

“Giving someone an education is the surest way to extricate him or her from poverty.”
Nelson Mandela

Source: Skills Portal

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