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Durban academic advocates inclusive equitable and quality education in South Africa

By Ashok Ramsarup :: Since the dawn of democracy, scores of foreign universities flooded South Africa but pulled out of the country after facing strict accreditation and registration regulations.  Today, parents expressed grave concern about sending their children to what has been described as “volatile campuses of public universities” in the country.

Durban academic, Dr Prem Ramlachan strongly recommended and emphasised the importance of the “potential impact and influence of private higher education institutions in the internationalisation of higher education in South Africa in the 21st century.

Dr Ramlachan who grew up in humble beginnings worked his way from delivery letters to now publishing papers, vociferously described in his paper, that in keeping with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the need for inclusive and equitable quality education must accommodate and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.

He said his paper made it abundantly clear that “globally the demand for access to higher education exceeds the places which are available, resulting in many students who cannot obtain places in institutions and in their respective programmes of choice.

“The government and public sector have over the years, been alarmed and feared that the private providers would attract students away from the public universities in the areas where they could generate income, undermining sources for cash-strapped universities and threatening the future of a strong sector built up over decades,”  said Dr Ramlachan.

Dr Ramlachan carried out his research using a private higher education institution, engaging in dialogue with educational directors, established that arguments influencing inclusivity, equality and life-long learning, focused around conceptualization, agility and foot-printing.

The paper cited standards dropped when the public sector opened its doors to disadvantaged students when South Africa became a democracy in 1990.  But, Dr Ramlachan did not stop pursuing and inspiring students. He imparted his knowledge obtained from his expert knowledge on the development of global relationships and education.

Last year universities expressed mixed reactions to the amended minimum admission requirements for entry into Bachelor’s degree programmes, which included a 30% pass in languages. The Former Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi  Pandor made the changes following consultation with the  Council on Higher Education. It was applied to the 2019 academic year intake.

But, Dr Ramlachan had a genuine desire to help others realise their dreams and aspirations to reap the maximum potential which aligns to his philosophy of “serve the student to serve the universe”.

The paper noted that there were capabilities of increasing access to higher education through private higher education, but scepticism and regulations were barriers to learning that adversely affecting progress.

Dr Ramlachan said the dynamics were changing as private higher education had become the fastest-growing segment of higher education in the world. He argued that private higher education institutions could be inclusive, ultimately offering quality higher education programmes that would contribute substantially to addressing, expanding and widening access to higher education studies. He was adamant that private institutions could contribute substantially to the internationalisation of higher education in South Africa.  Dr Ramlachan, who obtained his Doctorate from the University of KwaZulu –Natal who has been a thought thinker, joined many educators at national international platforms globally.

“While higher education is very complex as it includes various dimensions of power dynamics dominated by politics, internationalisation in higher education can be achieved who drives it and how it is maintained that’s in keeping with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” added Dr Ramlachan

Dr Ramlachan expressed optimism that private and public higher educations could be strengthened systemically in South Africa so that it becomes the destination of choice for the greater good of higher education in the world.

The full paper could be viewed via the link: https://doi.org/10.5296/ije.v11i2.14699

Ashok Ramsarup is award-winning senior journalist of South Africa 🇿🇦 

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