Aspirations for higher education : evidence from youth living in Kenneth Gardens municipal housing estate (Durban)
Inadequate and unequal access to higher education has been identified as a major development issue internationally. This issue has received practical attention from different stakeholders in an attempt to increase youth participation and to promote equal access to higher education. However, it has been recognised that such attention was not adequate to ensure access to higher education for the majority of deserving youth. Similarly, in South Africa, limited access to higher education for the majority of youth remains a major development problem. This study was conducted at Kenneth Gardens which is the municipal housing estate in Durban KwaZulu-Natal. Most youth at Kenneth Gardens lack higher education. As a result, higher education is one of the possible aspects making youth vulnerable to non-participation in the economy. It thereby remains critical that the public, private and civil society sectors cooperate to develop appropriate strategies to improve youth access and participation in higher education. The enhancement of competences and skills for young individuals can contribute to development. There are many practical barriers that hinder youth to participate in higher education. This study goes beyond looking at these practical obstacles which hinder youth from accessing higher education. More specifically, the study explores the lesser known factor of “lack of aspirations” for higher education. This study demonstrates that although it is important to address practical barriers such as providing funding for higher education, increasing the number of tertiary education institutions, strengthening the capacity of primary and secondary education to prepare learners for higher education, increasing youth aspirations for higher education is very critical for youth to access higher education. The major finding from this study is that lack of aspirations is one of the major obstacles that hinder youth from accessing higher education. Aspiration for higher education is one of the main drivers for youth to become motivated to access higher education. This suggests the need to implement effective programmes that aim at increasing youth aspirations for higher education.