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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


From Aparthied to Democracy: The Complexities in Transforming the South African Higher Education

Michael Sekoto.

The South Africa Act of 1909 was enacted by the British Parliament and led to the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910. The Act of 1909 introduced the Westminster system of government, but with the modification that it also introduced four provinces with their own legislatures. In the light of the above, fragmented educational systems based on provincial basis became inevitable. The author will expatiate on the impact of this systems on the recipients of such education.
The negotiations for the Act of 1909 were conducted by whites only, and this led to the formation of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1912. After 1948, when the National Party (NP) came into power, there was a strong movement in favour of establishing group areas for different racial groups, this notion of self-determination and independence also had a profound impact on education. The author will touch on "Bantu Education" and its rejection by the majority of the South African population.
South Africa's second constitution, Act 32 of 1961, came about as a result of South Africa becoming a republic under Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd (and being excluded from the Commonwealth). This heralded an era whereby the idea of homelands system for blacks, and further fragmentation of education came into being. South Africa was ultimately partitioned into four provinces for whites, coloured and indians, and ten (10) homelands for blacks. Four (4) of these homelands became fully "independent" states since 1977, while the remaining six (6), in succession graduated to self-governing status. All ten (10) had their own education departments. The author will elucidate the effects of these arrangements on the free movement of the people. The new political and constitutional dispensation that was born on 27 April 1994 with the election of the African National Congress (ANC) to office constitutes a radical break with the past. The government is engaged in overhauling an Apartheid System that had oppressed and marginalised the majority of the South Africans.
In the field of transforming Higher Education, the government first started by promulgating the Higher Education Act (Act 101 of 1997), this Act paved the way to the total transformation of Higher Education in South Africa. The author will highlight whether this envisaged total transformation was successfully implemented or not.
In the year 2001 the Minister of Education launched the National Plan for Higher Education. It recognises a quality higher education system, which responds to the equity and development challenges that are critical to improving the quality of life of all South African people.
The National Plan for Higher Education proposes reducing the number of higher institutions in South Africa from 36 to 21. However, the plan is not without any criticism, both South Africans who lost out and those who benefited from the Apartheid System are opposed to the change. The debates around this issue will be fully canvassed by the author in the main text.


Michael Sekoto  (South Africa)
Campus Registrar

Mike sekoto is the Campus Registrar of Vista University Bloemfontein Campus. he joined the Institution in 1995. He has optained B.COM LAW at the University of Fort Hare in the Eastern Province of South Africa in 1988.
He then joined the private sector and served as a middle manager in many companies. After joining Vista University Bloemfontein Campus he enrolled with the University of the Free State and obtained a Master in public administration. He is currently reading towards PhD with the University of Pretoria wich is situated in the Gauteng Province of South Africa. He has attended many local conferences, symposia, workshops and educational sessions where papers were presented. He published an article in the South African Journal of Public Administration in 199

  • Aparthied
  • Democracy
  • Transformation
  • South Africa
  • Higher Eucation and National Plan

(30 min Conference Paper, English)