“The time taken by students to complete their undergraduate qualifications improved. However, the higher education system still has challenges in terms of success and poor completion rates”
THE AGE-OLD question of who is smarter between men and women may just have been answered by Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke.
He was speaking at a media briefing on higher education and skills in South Africa.
Mauleke painted a very lush picture for women in the country, saying most qualifications were obtained by the fairer sex. From the year 2000 until 2016, 63% of those who obtained bachelor degrees in higher institutions were women, up from 53.1% in the previous period. The figure for men in the meantime, dropped from 46.9% in 2000 to 37% in 2016.
For honours degrees, females dropped from 55.4% to 51.8%, but were still higher than males, who went up from 44.6% to 48.2% in 2016.
Master’s degrees tipped on the female side with 55.4% compared with the male counterparts at 44.6%. The same applies for doctorates, with females at 58.2% compared to 41.8% for males.
Female participation in 2016 at public higher educational institutions (universities) was 58% and 57% at TVET colleges.
According to the report, the number of graduates from public higher universities more than doubled from 92 874 in 2000 to 203 076 in 2016. In 2016, the number of graduates from TVET and private colleges stood at 135 492.
“The time taken by students to complete their undergraduate qualifications improved. However, the higher education system still has challenges in terms of success and poor completion rates,” he said.
Among those who were not attending educational institutions, more than half – 51% – claimed that they did not have the financial means to pay for their tuition, while 20% said they had already completed or were satisfied with their level of education.
More than three quarters of the black/African, Indian/Asian and coloured 18 to 24-year-olds who were not attending because they were happy with their level of education only completed secondary schooling. The comparative figure for whites was 64%.
Furthermore, 18% among 18 to 24-year-olds who were not attending educational institutions indicated that they were prevented from participating by their poor academic performance.
Maluleke said challenges within the basic education system do hamper the transition of many pupils to post-school education. In 2017, only three-quarters of male pupils who attended Grade 10 in 2016 progressed to Grade 11, while the same was true for close to 87% females.
During the same period, even fewer males – 71% – who attended Grade 11 in 2016 progressed to Grade 12 the following year, while 76% of the females could do the same.
The provinces most affected by these changes were the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal with obvious implications for the National Senior Certificate performance .
While performance was generally better among male pupils, no gender gap was observed in terms of bachelor pass rates.