The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr BE Nzimande, MP has repeatedly affirmed that employment is essential for creating social stability in South Africa. People who do not have a reasonable hope of finding decent work – or creating their own sustainable livelihoods – have little to lose and have little stake in maintaining a stable society.
One of the obligations of the DHET is to increase access to educational opportunities for those who experience barriers to learning and for young people who are not in education, training or employment (NEET). Such barriers include:
- geographic isolation from campuses or learning centers within reasonable proximity;
- lack of reliable access to digital infrastructure, adequate bandwidth, the internet and ICT;
- inability to take time off from work or family obligations for structured learning;
- discrimination on the basis of physical disability, gender, age, social class or race;
- a lack of qualifications considered necessary as requirements for admission to particular programmes;
- financial constraints and an inability to meet the cost of studies; and
- past experience of content-based, transmission-type pedagogy and assessment that restrict accessibility, alienate the learner or contribute to a loss of confidence.
The DHET has adopted ‘open learning’ as a strategy to increase access to education and training opportunities for all and to construct quality learning environments which take account of learners’ context and use the most appropriate and cost-effective methods and technologies. The DHET supports the development of open learning opportunities as an integral part of the post-school education and training (PSET) system, and not as an add-on or second-best to face-to-face and/or classroom engagements. There is an intention to forge networks of institutions and learner support centers, and to promote innovation and opportunities for lifelong learning.
‘OERs will help nourish the kind of participatory culture of learning, creating, sharing and cooperation that rapidly changing knowledge societies need.’ (The Cape Town Declaration, 2007)