University Readiness Begins at High School Level: CAO

On Thursday, 24 August 2017, the Central Applications Office (CAO) held its Annual General Meeting at the Hilton Hotel in Durban. The meeting was attended by various education stakeholders; among these being Mr Dewald Edward Janse van Rensburg, Registrar at the University of Zululand (UNIZULU).

CAO processes the applications of all first-time entry undergraduate candidates to KwaZulu-Natal’s (KZN) four public universities, three TVET colleges and 13 private colleges. In the 2016/2017 financial year, the office processed 140 000 applications for study at these institutions.

In his speech, CAO Chief Executive Officer George Van der Ross, urged education stakeholders to forge meaningful long-term partnerships with schools and assist with providing career guidance to pupils well before the application or registration phases.

Van der Ross challenged how the basic education system is preparing pupils for higher education; saying that the transformation of basic education is solely dependent on making changes to teaching, the curriculum and the manner in which research is conducted. Instead, it needs to include tighter measures to ensure university readiness at a school level. To address the latter, CAO has, in the past year, dedicated resources to informing and educating Grade 12 pupils about the tertiary options available to them in KZN. The organisation has also expanded its scope to include Grade 9 learners and assist them with subject choices, which in turn impacts on the degrees, diplomas and higher certificates they have access to once matriculating. The CAO Career Fair schedule gives preference to schools in rural areas of the province as these are generally educationally under-resourced and often lack specialist Life Orientation (LO) teachers and access to information.

Award-winning Carte Blanche journalist and media personality, Devi-Sankaree Govender, was the guest speaker at the meeting and delivered an empowering speech about her inspirational journey from a young UKZN-graduate to being at the forefront of national broadcast investigative journalism.

In a fitting tribute to Women’s Month, Devi-Sankaree explained with humour, anecdotes and commentary, the importance of being yourself and making it on your own terms. Describing herself as a “working mum who is proudly South African”, Devi-Sankaree dispelled myths about TV and explained how she harnessed pure grit and determination to make impactful strides in her phenomenal journey. She urged the education stakeholders present at the event to continue to help make a difference because “an education means an upliftment of an entire community, not just an individual”.