World Watch

10 April 2007

The government's joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) plans to produce 12 000 engineering graduates per year by 2010, well above the current 1 400 per year, said Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at a recent briefing on JIPSA's 2007 report. The JIPSA initiative also hopes to produce 50 000 artisans by 2010, requiring an annual increase of 7 500.

If the quality of education at township schools does not improve, inequality, uneven development and social exclusion of the African child will be reinforced, said Gauteng Premier Mbazima Shilowa at a Gauteng education summit in March. All 14 schools in the province that obtained a matric pass rate below 30% last year were from townships, and the majority of the 21.65% of the pupils who failed matric last year were African.

Professor Jonathan Jansen, outgoing-dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Pretoria, has called on the institution to speed up transformation, and said Tuks could be ranked among the top 10 academic institutions of the world if it nurtured its women and black academics. "Senior management is largely white and male, which is not very different from 10 years ago," said Jansen.

Orange Democratic Movement Kenya presidential aspirant Kalonzo Musyoka recently promised that his government will offer free education to the disabled if he is elected.

Three years after Princeton University announced a campaign to curb grade inflation (the increase of high grades over time), USA Today reports, the proportion of high grades has dropped, but some students say they steer clear of courses - and classmates - seen as exceptionally competitive. The university, which continues to draw record numbers of applications, said it had no plans to abandon its effort to rein in inflated grades.

Elias A Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), recently told members of Congress that President Bush's restrictions on funds for research on human embryonic stem cells are blocking progress in the field and should be relaxed. At the same hearing, four academic scientists and Zerhouni testified that the agency's flat financing threatens to slow the pace of research advances for curing cancer and other diseases, just as scientists are poised to make major strides.

Serbia's minister of education and sports, Slobodan Vuksanovic, proposed new measures this month to prevent cheating on university examinations, amid a degree-peddling scandal that has led to calls for his resignation. In recent months, Serbian police have arrested over 20 people in connection with an exam-selling ring at the University of Kragujevac law school. As many as 600 students are alleged to have paid up to US $1 000 (over R7 000) to pass a single oral examination, and up to US $20 000 (more than R146 000) to receive a law degree from the public university, located in Serbia's fourth-largest city.

Sources: Independent Online,, Chronicle of Higher Education Online

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