Introduction: South Africa is a member state of the “BRICS” bloc () and the G20 group of the 20 nations/economic blocs, which between them account for the majority of the world’s trade and economic activity. It faces many developmental challenges which are mirrored in its higher education sector. In this article, the authors seek to provide an overview of the challenges that South African higher education faces in the achievement of the developmental goals of the country. The focus of this paper is a case study in WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) to improve context-specific responses that trains pharmacists on knowledge and skills.
Methods: The study was performed as a combination of calculations and a literature review to obtain the background or current status of the higher education sector and developmental planning in South Africa. For this, data were extracted from the Statistics South Africa reports, relevant professional articles on South African higher education sector and results of postgraduate research. Workshop results which were obtained as a collaboration between a public and a private higher education institution and results of postgraduate research were used as the paradigm for transformation and decolonisation of the curriculum for a professional degree in South Africa.
Results and discussion: Challenges exist in the South African tertiary education sector and the graduation rate currently stands at 65.1% of the target set by the National Development Plan. Around 58.1% of all students do not complete their university/post-secondary education, which could provide a partial explanation for the skills shortage in South Africa. Decolonisation and transformation of the tertiary education curriculum are major topics in the discourse on higher education in South Africa. The authors propose that one way to achieve this would be inclusion of research results and group activities in the area of water, sanitation and hygiene as a topic for possible and partial transformation of the Bachelor of Pharmacy curriculum.
Conclusions: The current article summarises some of topics and challenges that drive the current discourse, developmental and curriculum debate in higher education in South Africa. Student access and through put at tertiary institutions need to be improved and the curriculum needs to be transformed.
This article seeks to provide an outline the scope of professional teaching and learning activities and their connection to civic engagement and the achievement of environmental sustainability at Rhodes University and in Makana Local Municipality. Activities in the context of rainwater water harvesting and sanitation research are used as examples. The improved hydrogen-sulphide test kit was used as the tool for the assessment of microbial water quality between April and July 2016. An approach to the improvement in the design and modelling of the performance of ventillated improved pit latrines under laboratory conditions is also described. All activities described have been taking place in the context of undergraduate and postgraduate student research projects at Rhodes University. They have implications for teaching and learning, civic engagement and environmental sustainability. Teaching and learning of the concepts of sustainability can facilitate the development of the necessary connection between academia and the society at large. This can have a significant positive effect on societal conditions in South Africa. Further endeavours similar those described in this article should be stimulated in South and beyond.
Testing microbial quality of the harvested rainwater remains a challenge in many countries. The H2S test kit is a low-cost microbiological field-based test which can be used in areas where water testing facilities are limited. This study compares its efficiency with the standard indicators microorganisms in the detection of faecal contamination of rainwater in South Africa. A total of 88 rainwater samples were collected from various tanks in the Eastern Cape, South Africa over three months in 2016. The collected samples were analysed for faecal bacterial contamination using the H2S test kit, Colilert-18/Quanti-tray®/2000 and the membrane filtration technique for faecal coliforms (MFT). The correspondence rate of the H2S test kit with MFT was 88 %, while for the Colilert® it was 76 %. The H2S test kit confirmed faecal contamination when concentrations of standards indicators microorganisms were 5 most-probable number of cells/100 cm3 or higher. Overall, the best correspondence of the H2S test kit with Colilert® was observed at E. coli concentrations above 50 most-probable number of cells/100 cm3. Results of the H2S test kit correlated better with MTF, while the medium used has strongly influenced the enumeration of faecal contamination. Results point to strong effect of media used and revealed the need to calibrate the correspondence between the standard indicator microorganisms and the H2S test kit under local conditions for specific settings.