The Role of University of South Africa in Contributing to Open Distance and E-Learning and to Social Justice in South Africa
AbstractSocial justice in higher education would imply equal opportunity to access, participate and benefit from higher education. This simply means removal of barriers and inclusion of all those who have traditionally been excluded either by history, perceptions or structures. Because of its flexibility of programmes and forms of delivery, open and distance learning (ODL) has been acknowledged to have greater potential for reducing these barriers. However, to date, especially in developing societies, there are still a great number of people who are missing out on higher education. In this paper, the researcher looks at the role of University of South Africa (Unisa) in contributing to ODL and e-learning in South Africa and beyond. A large amount of the country’s budget is spent on education. According to the constitution of South Africa, education is the basic right for everyone. The ministry of education in South Africa has identified ODL as a system that should expand the educational opportunities and provide access to individuals who would not have had the opportunity to study full time. The researcher randomly sampled 400 students from the total number of 1808 enrolled in the Higher Diploma in Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET). They were targeted to participate in the survey to ensure the best possible representation of their experiences of learner support in ABET. The response rate was 257 questionnaire returned by the students. However, while the findings represent the views and experiences of the target population, they cannot claim to be representative of the views and experiences of all ABET and Unisa students. A review of literature study identified the Community of Inquiry model proposed by Garrison, Anderson and Archer (2001) as useful in this context and this model will be used as the conceptual framework for this study.
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