Transformation of the Tertiary Education Sector in South Africa

How do we transform Universities within South Africa? Heleta (2016) argues that the tertiary education sector is still dominated and embedded in a colonial culture. The author will be focused on critically analyzing what is needed to transform the tertiary education sector. 

How do we perform successful knowledge transfer when it comes to indigenous knowledge or western methodology? Maluleka & Ngoepe (2018) confirmed that when it comes to traditional healers and the knowledge transfer, the eldest and more experienced leaders educated the younger students just the same as it would be at school with student and teacher. this allows for sustainability and continuous supply (if we can use this term) of traditional healers in these societies. 

The author will explore how indigenous knowledge and western methodology are embedded in our institutions. Badat (2017) found that universities in South Africa were not African or South African as Colonialism made the institutions conform more to a European learning style. To the authors knowledge this could be perceived as an adapt or die scenario. We, as a society need to accept what the learning outcomes are irrespective of our indigenous knowledge or cultural values. The author will also examine how distance learning has an impact on learning and transformation. 

The author will argue that transformation in the tertiary education sector is on the cusp of being resolved. Heleta (2016) found during their research that a campaign was started by students to have the curriculum within the South African universities decolonized from Western culture and historical methodology. In order to transform the institutions in South Africa, the authors view is that we need to amend how universities operate or the study material being covered. Shariffuddin et al (2017) found that in order to transform the tertiary education sector, universities need to start implementing a new course of study material and research, which is aligned to macro and micro environments which will equally support the sustainability of the community.

Does this mean we will be a society of understanding and can we work towards a sustainable future for our institutions? Could it be that we do not have the correct funding in order to provide better opportunities for all? Kibuuka (2017) research indicated that a significant growth in our economy could result in higher revenue which in turn could be used to support the transformation for the disadvantaged resulting in an inclusive environment. We need to be more proactive in the management of our funds and ensure that all communities and societies are included in any form of transformation. 

Could it be that we are struggling to transform our institutions based on our language barrier or bias? Consider that some institutions prefer to conduct or address subject matter in a specific language. This makes it harder for someone who must interpret their thoughts and views perfectly in a language which is not their first. Moonsamy et al (2017) found in their research, that schools needed to provide English as a primary language and a secondary language decided by the school and their entry requirements. 

How does distance learning contribute to transformation in the universities? Does this mean that we are conforming to European or Western methods of learning once again? Could it just be that technology has evolved to such an extent that it is now possible for students to learn in the comfort of their own homes. Pavel et al (2015) found that universities contribute massively to the growth and development of the economy on a global scale, hence they are fast tracking technology in order to accommodate distance learning. 

The author argues that distance learning can empower and educate individuals who are not able to attend formal classes or afford the tertiary costs which goes with it. Rupande (2015) argued that if funds for educational purposes are allocated correctly, it does not only benefit the employees but also the organization the employee works for and the community it resides in. We can see that by upskilling your employees and increasing their knowledge base, you can get better results from them and empower the community they live in by means of knowledge transfer. 

The authors view is that if we do not decolonize or at most integrate modern and indigenous knowledge into our institutions, we may lose valuable knowledge or experience in various fields of study. Porr & Matthews (2017) research confirms that post-colonial methodology has an impact on society and how the ontological and epistemological perspectives can integrate indigenous knowledge into western culture. One can say that indigenous and cultural could be the turning point in job creation globally. Snowball et al (2017) argued that the production and consumption of cultural knowledge and entrepreneurship are sectors that are fast growing and adding to the global economy in first and third world countries. 

“In southern Africa there are two main types of traditional health practitioners: the herbalist (Zulu inyanga; Xhosa ixhwele; Tsonga nyanga; Sotho ngaka) and the diviner (Zulu isangoma; Xhosa igqirha; Tsonga mungome; Sotho selaodi)” (Sobiecki, 2014, p. 2). 

Indigenous knowledge can be said to form part of a variety yet specific fields of study. Nakata (2002) confirms that indigenous knowledge now forms part of research in scientific fields such as ecology, human health and zoology. However, how does this affect third world and developing countries and the rural areas within these countries? One can say that they do not have the necessary access to the necessities or scientific equipment. Nakata (2002) argues that the reason for this is that societies in disadvantaged areas struggle as they do not have access to sanitized water sustainable and basic resources. Could traditional healing and studies have some positive effect on western cultural methodology and scientific research? The author believes that if indigenous knowledge is given the chance to incorporate its medicinal research with that of western methods, more cures could be found for infections or viruses. De Beer & Whitlock (2009) found that a researcher from a South African university researched and discovered that traditional healers had successfully found a treatment remedy for STD’s (Sexually Transmitted Diseases). 

What is indigenous knowledge? De Beer & Whitlock (2009) defines indigenous knowledge as particular skills and knowledge people in a certain area have acquired and provides them with the access to extract the most out of the environment around them in a natural manor. So how do we incorporate this knowledge in our schools and universities? De Beer & Whitlock (2009) argues that having indigenous knowledge included in the Biology classes, not only allows for the learner to be identified or acknowledged, but also allows for the learner to have a better learning experience who struggle with western cultural studying methodologies. With this said, is this implemented across the board at all institutions being rural and urban areas? Mouton (2006) states that even in first world countries where there seems to be a fair opportunity and distribution of education, it seems to not serve everyone equally. 

So how do we transform universities in South Africa? Where do we draw the line with regards to western and indigenous cultural aspects and methodologies? Sobiecki (2014) found it was assumed that traditional African medication was illogical or understudied, since it was extracted from natural resources such as plants. If we look at the earlier STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) example earlier, it was found that this was cured by means on traditional African medication. Why can we not be an inclusive global community? As stated earlier, why can we not incorporated indigenous knowledge in our classrooms to enhance the learning capabilities for all students? 

Does heritage and culture really play a role in the transformation of the tertiary sector? If so, does that not mean that we can merge western methodology with that of indigenous knowledge. Maringe (2017) argues that we need to adapt and introduce African cultures in our learning institutions which will allow learners to have access to a broader African culture. Think of South African students who wish to study abroad, you need to adapt to the cultural and indigenous knowledge of the country you are in to fully understand and adapt to the learning techniques. Maringe (2017) further confirms that students who travel abroad to study learn about cultures and facets of that country’s methods. 

In closing, are universities and all tertiary institutions the only ones responsible for transformation? What is the role of Government in the implementation or enforcing the proper transformation required? Kettl (2000) argues that if Government was given adequate access to play a legitimate role in governing correctly, they could implement the transformation required. We may just need this if we want to be considered as an inclusive society.