Why is knowledge devalued in modern society







By: Zipho Meyiwa

Modern society

Our modern society is one that is globalised and is based on information and innovation, and they, in turn are highly knowledge intensive. The impact this has on Education is most notable and because of globalisation there has been a demand for education more specifically tertiary education. Whilst the need for tertiary education is high; globalisation is reducing the demand for un-skilled labour as the new technology reduces labour as a whole. This creates a conflict of interest considering the fact that some of our young people being the first individuals in their homes to get that degree will soon realise that it is no longer an absolute guarantee of employment. The information technology and developments of it thereafter have caused the information that one learns in tertiary to be of little relevance once in the working environment thus putting more pressure on government and education stakeholders to pay attention on skill development and information and knowledge production and generation.

The Y Generation

It’s a fact that the new generation (Y Generation, Millennia’s) has a more positive outlook on life than any previous generation.  They are exposed to diversity not only in their communities but also through media. Their preference for immediate feedback and their interest in interactive information products makes for a mouthful of individuals to compact in our education system of tertiary routine. The Y generation comprises of individuals who have a low attention span and do not learn in the same monotonous way that previous generations are used to.

Education in modern society.

Every year without fail the same thing happens in this country; it’s a huge Shock to all matriculates’ that they should go to tertiary. Everyone goes to queue at higher institutions of learning as if they did not know that after high school comes tertiary.

The age in which we live in and its demands for different labour shows that not everyone needs to go to university.  The country has over 50 public FET colleges comprising of 264 campuses over the nine provinces. These offer courses and qualifications at various levels of study for learners with a grade 9 pass/certificate and NQF level 1 qualification or grade 12 qualifications. There are also 21 sector education and training authorities (SETA) that look after the skills needs for various productive sectors of the economy. Examples include the Bankseta for work within the banking field or the Merseta for work within the manufacturing sector.

South Africa is a country that is newly democratic and has a deeply marked history of inequality in terms of education; the fast paced transformation and revisions of the curriculum since 1994 have tried to cover the disparities in the former education systems.The number of candidates who wrote matric is 377 829 only 136 047 with a matric exemption pass, 139 741 diploma passes and 88 604 higher certificate. The universities can only accommodate 183 893 and 100 00 for FET colleges in 3013. Meanwhile, SETAS provide 18 000 opportunities this year. (V. Qinnga: 6). Just by looking at the figures its visible that a lot of students will be left out in terms of entering in universities, the number of matrics  2012 that qualify to go into university is more then what the universities can hold. With this said it is important to note that in the modern society stable jobs with predictable careers are disappearing. They are being replaced by “flexible labour”. It is therefore important for people to have the capacity to use knowledge and information in a whole range of economic activities according to Castells.

Educations role in modern society is of great importance, the quality rather than the quantity should be the governments focus. There has been much emphasis placed on the building of universities but the fact of the matter is not everyone has to go university but more programmes leading to intermediate and high level learning should be in line with the changing world therefore allowing individuals to branch into other spheres such as learnerships for individuals who are unable to get into universities.


M. Carnoy. 2005. Globalisation, Educational trends and the open society. Standford University, School of Education.

D. Chang. 2013:25.The University lemming run. City Press. Johannesburg.

P. Christie.2008. Globalisation, the ‘Knowledge economy and Education’. Heinemann. Johannesburg, South Africa.

V. Qinga.2013:6.There is more to post-school Education than university. The Sunday Independence. Johannesburg.


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