Open Distance Learning (ODL) in South Africa by Moeketsi Letseka
Access to higher education and the prospect of obtaining a higher education qualification through full-time contact institutions seems a remote reality for the majority of black South Africans who were denied opportunities for higher education during apartheid. The majority of this group is either in full-time employment, part-time employment, temporary posts, unemployed and at most unemployable. This book opens up the debate on the open distance learning (ODL) mode of teaching and learning. The book is written in user-friendly English accessible to professionals in higher education and ODL as well as the non-professional layman. The book debates among others, the critical issues of access to higher education in South Africa. It offers ODL as a viable alternative to millions of South Africans who were denied opportunities to study in higher education by past policies of apartheid. The book puts across ODL as a viable mode of access to higher education qualifications that are accredited by South Africa's Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and are recognized by the country's labor market. The book tackles the sensitive but necessary issue of assessment in ODL. It discusses best practices in ODL and offers justifications for ODL practitioners to align their practice with internationally recognized benchmarks and examples of best practice. The book explores the sensitive issues of pass rates and throughput rates in ODL. Given their very nature as higher education institutions whose student clientele is mature working adults, ODL institutions' qualifications completion targets tend to be more relaxed and extended than their full-time contact higher education institutions counterparts. Invariably throughput rates in ODL institutions are perceived to be very poor. The book opens up debates on the dynamics of ODL pass rates and throughput rates. It explores the notions of throughput rate and pass rate and interrogates the nuances of perceived ODL poor rates. A question the book seeks to address is whether ODL throughput rates and pass rates are indeed poor or seem poor relative to performances of full-time contact institutions?