There is still a deep controversy surrounding the levels of education attained by black people in the country.
While many reject claims that black youths are less educated now than 20 years ago, as reported by Statistics SA in 2016, others insist that more blacks excel now than before – especially in Mathematics and Science.
In the said report, the Stat SA research painted a bleak picture of failed education policy as a major cause of the drop in the percentage of black African professionals.
Internationally, the importance of the doctorate has grown, primarily because of the important role higher education plays in the knowledge economy, specifically with regard to high-level skills.
This mindset might have triggered Education Minister announcing that he intends to set up a ministerial task team to probe why there are few black South Africans graduating with doctorates.
At a joint higher education committee meeting in Parliament on Wednesday, the minister said he found that black South Africans represent only 10% of PhD graduates at many graduation ceremonies.
Although Mr. Blade admitted that a good number of reasons could have caused the shrink, he expressed worry that the percentage could deflate below 10.
One of the reasons why most black South African shy away from going for their doctorates is finance, he admitted. The minister, however, told the committee that he was told there are deeper issues like ‘gatekeeping’ and all whatnots – hence, the need for the committee.
He made reference to a case of one student who told him her PhD proposal had been rejected four times, saying he hopes the ministerial committee will get down to the bottom of the problem and come up with something substantial.
It is pertinent to note that over the past two decades, the dominant debate in higher education in South Africa – as in many other parts of the world – has centred on access and equity.