Megauniversity/University of South Africa

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Flag of South Africa.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

One thing that has to be mentioned is that South Africa had been suffered from apartheid since 1948 and had ended in 1994. For about half a century, non-whites were discriminated. People in South Africa were categorized into four; white, black, Indian/Asian and coloured.

Not all of non-whites were educated equally during this era. Bantu Education was applied in South Africa. In this law, black people needed education only for black society. In other words, they did not have enough inputs to work equally with white people in white societies. After 1996, the new law was declared and according to this, all of people in South Africa have rights to be educated equally in official language or language they choose. Still not all of black people are educated or have literacy. Moreover, not all of educators have enough training for teaching. Non-literacy people or not well trained educators are given trainings through distance education. In the following parts, one of the distance education institutions, University of South Africa, is focused from pedagogical aspects.

South Africa Profile[edit | edit source]

South Africa became Union of South Africa on May 31, 1910 from former British colonies, and after about half century, in 1961 on the same day, the Republic of South African was declared.

Geography and Population demography[edit | edit source]

The total land size of South Africa is 1,219,912 sq km and 43,997,828 people live there. The capitals are located in three regions depending on roles; Pretoria, Cape Town and Bloemfontein. More than half of population is occupied aged 15 to 64. 86.4 % of population who are over age 15 can read and write. More than 85% of females and males can read and write. Four ethnic groups lived; black African, white, coloured, and Indian/Asians (2001 census). However, majority of population is black African. 11 languages are spoken officially; IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, Afrikaans, Sepedi, English, Setswana, Sesotho, Xitsonga, and other (2001 census). 30% of the population engages in agriculture, 25% in industry and 45% in services. Major industries are: mining (world's largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium), automobile assembly and metal working.

Communication system[edit | edit source]

The phone systems are the finest developed in Africa. 4.729 million peoples are the mainline telephone user, 39.66 million are mobile phone users and 5.1 million are internet users. 1.088 million out of 5.1 million are internet hosts. There are 14 AM, 347 FM and 1 shortwave radio broadcast stations, and 554 television broadcast station.

University of South Africa Profile[edit | edit source]

University of South Africa (hereafter UNISA) is located in Pretoria and has been established in 1873. It is the oldest university and one of the most outstanding universities in South Africa. One third of university students in South Africa are students of UNISA. It provides not only degree courses but also trainings for current educators and Adult Basic Education Training (hereafter ABET) for people who do not have enough literacy. ABET is given in many districts in the country.

UNISA consist of 5 colleges; College of Law, College of Human Sciences (also, School of Education), College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, College of Economic and Management Sciences and College of Science, Engineering and Technology. The university offers undergraduate, master and doctor courses. Though there are five schools, UNISA offers variety of courses such as education, animal health, linguistics, MBA and so on. One of the most famous alumni is Nelson Mandela.

Learners Demography[edit | edit source]

Varieties of learners study at UNISA in the entire world. Most of learners are full-/part-time workers. Students’ age is expanded; about 64% of students are between ages 24 to 44, about 8% are over age 45 and about 260 students are over age 64. 55% of learners are women and more than 70% of learners are black, coloured and Indians. Quarter of new learners (1000) has visual disabilities but UNISA support them.

Media and Technology[edit | edit source]

UNISA employs the video conference tutorials. They are provided them at some learning centers which are located in the country, so learners who do not live in such regions have difficulties to access them. However, the video conferences have the same roles with face-to-face tutorials. By providing live tutorials by video reduces the cost.

Learners can register online and have online learning systems.

Course Design and Development[edit | edit source]

Courses are developed by teams of specialists. UNISA employs several course delivery systems such as interactive video conference, online learning, tutors, print based materials, teleconferencing and so on. UNISA employs printed materials mainly but is developing more internet based learning materials as well.

Student Supports[edit | edit source]

UNISA is a distance education institution. They emphasize on self-discipline and self-directed learning. For students who have difficulties to motivate themselves, the school provides a fellow students list and forms a study group. Learners are encouraged to contact them. Many options are provided for communicating with lecturer such as by emails, telephone, posting. Also, students’ supports are delivered at learning centers. Following are services that learners can have at the centers; Face-to-face tutorials (weekly or fortnightly), exams, computer lab, peer study groups, counseling and study place.

In order to prevent learners’ dropping out from UNISA or delay their completion of studying, the Division of Tutorial Support Services provides face-to-face tutorials, video conferences, Peer-group support services and counseling support services at learning centers. In tutorials (either face-to-face or video conferences), tutors help learners to understand course materials and course and to motivate.

UNISA produce special studying material for learners with disabilities. Materials are large printed, and sing language interpretations are provided. Trained staff are sent to the learning centers if it is necessary.

Examinations are given to learners at many places located more than 400 hundreds places.

Library[edit | edit source]

There are 2.4 million items in the library. These are sent to the branch libraries, if it is necessary, located in many places in the country such as Johannesburg. Learners can borrow items by telephone, email, post and pick them up at the branch libraries. The UNISA library is cooperated with other libraries nationally and internationally. Cooperated libraries share electric recourses.

Purpose of University of South Africa[edit | edit source]

There are many higher education institutions including distance education ones in South Africa. Distance education is widely used as upgrading workers’, individuals’ skills and training educators or other workers. In developing countries, distance education is often used in order to train teachers who are not well-trained.

Learners and Changing in South Africa’s higher education system[edit | edit source]

Reduction of the number of public higher education institutions was proposed in late 1990s. In fact, the number of colleges was trimmed down in 2000 and it means that learners needed to quit school or transfer to another institution. 21 universities turned into 11 institutions, 15 technikons (four-year technical college) turned into five institutions and more than 100 education colleges were reduced into two. Not only learners were affected but faculties and staff were affected. At least 5000 students were shifted to distance education institutions. Some number of students transfered to UNISA.

Learning in District[edit | edit source]

There are people who do not know how to read or write their names. Even some people do not know how to hold pens. UNISA provides trainings to those people who have low literacy. Trainers are volunteers and provide lesson in several district or learning centre in the country such as the Ga-Mothopo District. Not only literacy skills are delivered but teacher’s trainings are. The length of the training is various. The data shows that not all of teachers have teacher’s certification in South Africa. In black people’s case, in 1994, half of teachers were licensed, 30% of them were lower licensed and the rest were not licensed. This data shows that some trainings for teachers are necessary. However, UNISA provides such trainings to current teachers in order to deal with needs. Trainings are about English, Mathematics, Science and education of physically and mentally handicapped children.

Division of Work-Integrated Learning (WIL)[edit | edit source]

UNISA supplies courses such as business but also supplies some training that learners can gain skills and apply right after finishing courses. Clinical training, teaching practice, internship, professional practice, experimental training and learning, work-based learning, and supervised learning and practice are provided through WIL. WIL helps learners to enrich their skills for their futures and those skills gained in WIL can be applied to real world. It is offered in learning centers in the country. UNISA is a distance education institution but helps learners in the learning centers or district to gain not only academic skills but also social skills.

Impact of University of South Africa on the country[edit | edit source]

Since 1996, the Education law made it clear that all of citizens have equal rights to be educated but there is still a gap among people. After 1994, it is believed that all of people in South Africa are equal but a small number of black people are still not educated at all. UNISA has a big number of learners and one third of universities students in South Africa are occupied by UNISA. Majority of learners are full-/part-time workers and UNISA's motto is to provide equal quality of education to any people. UNISA’s contribution to the society is highly evaluated. As it is mentioned, UNISA only courses and certifications, diplomas and degrees but provides teacher trainings and Adult Basic Education Training (ABET).

ABET[edit | edit source]

ABET provides not only literacy skills but also makes learners realize that education is a process to contribute themselves economically and socially in the society. The ABET Institution in UNISA has started in 1994. By now, UNISA helped more than 300000 learners. This is supported by volunteer educators/trainers and learners are trained all over the country. UNISA does not only provide course to people who have lower literacy but also to educators. The number of learning sites is 6000. Courses are offered for prisoners at the Krugersdrop Prison in Gauteng and also are offered for a group of mentally and physically disabled learners in Qwa Qwa.

Evaluation[edit | edit source]

In 2002, UNISA was authorized by Distance Education and Training Council (hereafter DETC) in the United States. This proves that UNISA’s education quality and contribution to its country and learners. In order to be authorized by DETC, the institutions have to satisfy 12 conditions such as stating clearly defined objects, well-developed learning materials, learners’ supports, financial aids to learners, well-trained faculties and so on. Being authorized by DETC means these 12 conditions are satisfied by the institution.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

CIA-The World Factbook- South Africa. Retrieved January 20, 2008, from

Distance Education and Training Council. Retrieved January 20, 2008, from

International Education Association of South Africa. Retrieved January 20, 2008, from

Moore, M.G., & Kearsley, G. (1996). Distance Education: A Systems View. Wadsworth Publishing; Belmont.

Murata, Y. (1998). Minami ahurika kyowakoku ni okeru kyoiku no genjo to kokusaikyoryoku/enjo no hituyo sei. Kokusai kyoiku kyoryoku ron shu, 1(1), 111~124. (electric version) Retrievevd January 20, 2008, from'南アフリカ大学'

South African Institute for Distance Education. Retrieved January 20, 2008, from

University of South Africa. Retrieved January 20, 2008, from

Washington Post/Kaiser Foundation/Harvard University (March, 2004). Survey of South Africa at Ten Years Democracy. Retrieved January 20, 2008, from