Gender and race distribution of dental graduates (1985 - 2004) and first year dental students (2000 - 2005) in South Africa

18 Nov 2009

This paper, written at the close of a decade of democracy in South Africa, sets out to analyse the demographic profile of dental graduates from 1985-2004 at the five Faculties/Schools of Dentistry in South Africa. A comparison of the profiles for the pre-democracy (1985-1994) and post-apartheid (1995-2004) periods has been made. The demographic profile of first year dental students from 2000-2005 is also presented. From 1985-1994, most dental graduates were male (79%), but this changed substantially from 1995-2004, with females comprising 46% of those graduating. In the pre-democracy period, more than three-quarters of all graduates were White (78%), decreasing to 46% in the post-apartheid period under review. Black graduates increased from 6% to 24% across the two study periods. Amongst the first year dental student intake from 2000- 2005, females comprised 57%. There was an almost equal distribution across the White, Black and Asian groups. Dental faculties/schools have made important strides in transforming the demographic profile of their students. The percentage of Black graduates, however, needs to be significantly increased if it is to reflect the national population. Faculties/schools must further ensure that able students from working class background are identified and considered for acceptance into the undergraduate dental programme, and should then be offered the necessary academic and mentoring support to enable success.