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Engineering Education At South Africa's Technicians

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.169.1 - 2.169.9



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Paper Authors

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G. Frederick d'Almaine

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Brian Manhire

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Samuel O. Atteh

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1260

Engineering Education at South Africa’s Technikons

G. Frederick d’Almaine, Brian Manhire, Samuel O. Atteh

M. L. Sultan Technikon / Ohio University / International Foundation for Education and Self-Help

Abstract—This paper describes engineering education at the technikons of post-apartheid South Africa. In addition, the history of technikons is explained in the context of South African tertiary education. Comparisons are drawn between technical colleges, technikons and universities. Fi- nally, some challenges now facing the technikon movement are described. These include the need to adapt to the country’s evolving educational environment—which has radically changed as a result of the dismantling of apartheid—and the move by technikons into the awarding of un- dergraduate and graduate degrees with the attendant concentration on research and the need for technikon educators to seek higher qualifications.


Education in South Africa is stratified into three layers: primary school (first 7 years); followed by secondary school (next 5 years) and tertiary education.1 Secondary (High) school culminates in a (so-called “matric”) Matriculation Certificate or Senior Certificate which is typi- cally earned at age 18 and is symbolically represented by the letter “M” in the vernacular. Ad- mission to post-matric tertiary education, which is offered by universities, technikons and col- leges, is contingent upon earning the Senior Certificate. There are technical colleges which play a dual secondary/tertiary role by providing the knowledge and skills which prepare their graduates for specific trades or occupations.2 They of- fer National Technical Certificates (N Certificates) such as the N3, which is regarded as equal to a Senior Certificate (provided that languages are also included in the course) and the N4 which is evaluated as M+Β (matric + 8 months) provided it is earned in addition to a qualification equal to the Senior Certificate. The main players in tertiary education are the (public-sector) universities, technikons, teacher training colleges and technical colleges. About 350,000 students are enrolled at South Africa’s 21 universities and another 150,000 at technikons.3 Enrollments at teacher training col- leges and technical colleges are approximately 98,000 and 52,000 respectively.4 Tertiary-level engineering education is offered at 9 universities and 13 technikons.2 There are 15 technikons in South Africa as indicated in Figure 1. Of these, Technikon RSA (Republic of South Africa) of- fers education by correspondence only. Demographic data for South Africa’s technikons is pre- sented in Table 1. All of these figures should be read against a background of South Africa’s to- tal population of approximately 44 million people5 of which roughly 34,000 will earn the Senior Certificate this year (thus potentially entering tertiary institutions).

d'Almaine, G. F., & Manhire, B., & Atteh, S. O. (1997, June), Engineering Education At South Africa's Technicians Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6539

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