25 September 2013 Volume :1 Issue :3

European Delegation Shares Education Challenges With UKZN

European Delegation Shares Education Challenges With UKZN
Members of the EU Delegation that recently visited UKZN.

A European Union (EU) delegation recently visited UKZN on a mission to gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by the education sector in South Africa.

The delegation was led by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education and Culture, Mr Harold Hartung, who said he was amazed to discover how similar situations were in various countries.

Hartung was accompanied by Mr Richard Young, Head of Development Cooperation; Mr Christophe Larose, Head of Section: Social Sectors and Governance, and Dr Berene Kramer, Higher Education Programme Officer.

The delegation also examined at current EU-SA cooperation in this sector and possibilities for future co-operation.

In welcoming the delegation Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Innovation, Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship, Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, outlined some of the challenges including that of previously disadvantaged youth who are first time school goers and tertiary students in their families. 

Ramjugernath also spoke on the progress made by the University in terms of transformation as UKZN was currently the “most transformed University in the country”.

Hartung said challenges included having teachers who were not equipped for languages and cultural problems brought by immigration, an increased high school dropout rate, an increase in the number of people going into Higher Education, and ensuring graduates were equipped and matched the needs of the market.

He added that education included ensuring graduates succeeded in their social and personal life.

UKZN’s Dean of Research, Professor Urmilla Bob, said South Africa had become a training ground for students from other African countries, adding that 50 percent of postgraduate students were African.

Discussions also revolved around the Erasmus + which is the EU’s new programme for education, youth training and sport for the period 2014-2020.  It will offer a number of opportunities for Higher Education students, researchers, staff and institutions from across the world.  All these opportunities are funded by the European Union.

The delegation visited different research centres including K-Rith and Ukulinga Farm.

-       Sithembile Shabangu

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