Cape Town- South Africa (PANA) -- Education Minister Naledi Pandor has strongly condemned racist initiation practices recently reported at some higher education institutions around South Africa.
In one incident, first year male students were reportedly forced to hurl racial epithets at black commuters.
Pandor said she was horrified that the leaders of these institutions also failed to take action against those involved or make a public apology.
She was speaking at the Centre for International Political Studies at the University of Pretoria where she delivered an address on the state of higher education in South Africa, as part of the Centre's African Dialogue lecture series.
Pandor also lashed out at higher education institutions that were "wasteful, unresponsive and moribund," saying academic success rates and research and publication levels at some of these institutions were in need of urgent remedy.
She said that whilst 1.
6 million jobs had been created over the past 10 years, it was not enough to cope with the number of people coming onto the labour market.
In addition, the country's economy had shown a growth in demand for intermediate and high skills at the expense of the unskilled, yet at the same time unemployment of graduates had grown since 1995 from 6 percent to 15 percent.
Pandor said this was due to a mismatch between the education graduates receive and the jobs that are available in the economy.
"At the same time there is also a mismatch between the training that is available to those school leavers who do not move on into higher education and the demand for skills in the economy," she said.
Regarding overall expenditure on higher education, she said this had increased from 4.
8 billion Rand in 1994 to just under 10 billion Rand in the 2004/2005 financial year, adding that access to higher education for women in general and for Africans in particular had also improved significantly.
"However, financial exclusion still remains the biggest challenge for poor students.
NSFAS resources are limited and students can only access funds once they are registered at an institution, and the poor usually do not even have the minimum of funds required to register," Pandor said.