Between 2013 and 2017, a team of researchers from the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) undertook a study that tracked and provided insight into the academic journey of eighty students from eight universities in South Africa.
Studying While Black: Race, Education and Emancipation in South African Universities answers questions around some of the challenges faced by students from various socioeconomic backgrounds.
The HSRC’s Human and Social Development Programme senior research specialist Dr Alude Mahali spoke to Azania Mosaka about aspects of the study.
In the study, a young man relates how university exposes some of the gaps in South Africa's education system as well as distinct disparities between private and public schooling.
Mahali says language and technology are only some of what exposes these gaps.
You have young people who go to township schools or rural schools where they are taught subjects in African languages.— Dr Alude Mahali, Senior research specialist - HSRC’s human and social development programme
To then have to go and enrol at a university with peers who are used to socialising in English, to be a in a classroom where they are expected to not only follow the lesson plan but have the ability to consult with lecturers - this is a huge ask for someone who does not speak the language.— Dr Alude Mahali, Senior research specialist - HSRC’s human and social development programme
Another area is around technology - we had one story talking about students who come to register for IT at DUT [Durban University of Technology] who have never even switched the power button on the computer.— Dr Alude Mahali, Senior research specialist - HSRC’s human and social development programme
Mahali says other areas of struggle are generally around socialising, which prevents students from branching out or even speaking to their dean's or seeking counselling.
Those kinds of things are barriers to help-seeking behaviour. It can be an intimidating thing for a young person to access those services when that is not something that they are used to doing.— Dr Alude Mahali, Senior research specialist - HSRC’s human and social development programme
Click on the link below to hear more as well as some of the HSRC has made...