Aspects of student equity and higher education in South Africa

09 Mar 2009

Badat (2004, 4) refers to the triple challenge facing higher education: to promote equity and growth within a democratic framework and to consolidate a fledgling democracy. In higher education there is inherent tension between growth (access to education) and equity. The article argues that the vagueness in which the term “equity” is generally used as a synonym for “equality” contributes to an over-simplification of relevant issues. It also argues that the common practice of describing equity almost exclusively in quantitative terms (such as enrolment figures) detracts from important issues like the quality of the educational process, accountability and even outcomes. It explores other possibilities of conceptualising and reporting on equity.