Today I went to the South African Parliament. The student governments from four Western Cape Universities were invited to participate in a discussion with the Committee for Higher Education (which in turn advises parliament and Blade Nzimande, Minister for Higher Education).
The Parliamentary building is really beautiful. It has an air about it that still makes me wonder about politics and law as a career direction. Then again I think I’ve proven that studying medicine need not restrict your interests.
Accessibility of Tertiary Education by poor, deserving, undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Some really interesting points were highlighted by the different SRCs for this debate. These included:
- Encouraging public-private partnerships to make university-funding more accessible
- Revising the National Student Financial Aid (which is actually currently being done)
- Standard of Secondary Education in terms of retaining university students
- Accessibility to middle-income sector students (something close to my heart)
- Entrance requirements for university
Short explanation of point 4: High-income families aren’t really affected by increases in fees (yes, generalisation), while low-income students can get bursaries (scholarships) rather easily, at least in South Africa. Middle-income families, however, are not poor enough to get financial aid, yet not rich enough to afford tertiary education without a struggle.
Short explanation on point 5: In South Africa, in order to correct the inequities of the past, students compete in racial profiles for entrance to university. In other words, the top portion of each separate race group will receive admission to their preferred course. However, this means that black students who attended rural, disadvantaged schools without enough teachers and in many cases without sufficient infrastructure, are competing with wealthy black students who went to better schools than even I attended. The question was whether it would not be best to compete in groups determined by the scholastic opportunities you had as opposed to race in this setup.
We then sat in the gallery while the actual Parliamentary proceedings began. It was my first time ever and I found it very interesting – and rather shocking too. Members are rather rude and personal towards each other. It seems like a more honest microcosm of South African society. That was not really a pleasant event to witness, but apparently British Parliament is even worse.
Members of Parliament participated quite intensely in the debate regarding Higher Education and the Minister was taking notes quite avidly. That is something, at the very least.
I am unsure whether we have contributed to potential change, but it was definitely worth the hours out of my study timetable. There was talk about inviting SRCs again in the future.
Afterwards I walked through the Company Gardens – they are BEAUTIFUL. I want to spend more time in that area of Cape Town. It is beautiful and historic. The planetarium and national museum are near there as well. And I thought, “I could actually make some good memories here.”
Also, I have actually studied today. I am now pretty clued up about all genital infections and their diagnoses. I know that Candida is not sexually transmissible and that “Bacterial Vaginosis appears not to affect men” (well gosh, I wonder why that is so). Unfortunately one of my books says that the partner must be treated and the other says that it is not necessary, so I shall have to check up on that. I can classify and grade different genital prolapses and I finally understand Leiomyomata. I even studied PMS, dysmenorrhoea, rape and sexual dysfunction.
Personally, the sexual dysfunction chapter is my favourite because the authors obviously tried to keep things professional. “A hardworking husband coming home from work to find a frustrated mother with crying children is not in the mood for sex” – it goes without saying, but the fact that it is written in academic literature is kind of cute.
Tomorrow… more studying. I can do this. I have to do this. 🙂