The Development, Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation of a Quality Assurance System Supporting Continuous Improvement of Higher Education in the Eastern Cape Technikon

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The Development, Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation of a Quality Assurance System Supporting Continuous Improvement of Higher Education in the Eastern Cape Technikon

CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION AND STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

1. Introduction

Eastern Cape Technikon (ECT) was established in 1987 as University of Transkei Technikon, known as UNITRA Technikon. ECT is situated in Butterworth in the old Transkei region and draws its clients predominantly from the mostly rural Eastern Cape Province. ECT is characterised as one of the 13 historically disadvantaged institutions (HDI). Due to expansion and growth, ECT became independent of UNITRA (University of Transkei) and was renamed Transkei Technikon in 1991. On 20 April 1994 Eastern Cape Technikon became autonomous in terms of a Transkei Government decree No.3 (Technikons) of 1994. In 1993, ECT had further expanded by opening an extension campus (hereafter refereed to as Satellite Campus) in Umtata, followed by another satellite in Queenstown in 1994 and another in East London in 1996. Because of this tremendous and rather very fast growth, it changed its name once again to the current name, Eastern Cape Technikon.

Eastern Cape Technikon is a rural higher education institution located in the former economic active town of Butterworth. In the period prior to 1986 industrial activities in Butterworth had acted as the growth nerve for the suburban and township residential areas, thereby becoming the center of economic activity in the then Transkei. With the withdrawal of incentives to industries for rural locations, currently Butterworth has no industries to employ its poor communities especially the surrounding residential locations born out of the pre-1994 industrial boom. The Technikon is surrounded by rural communities which are dependant, wholesale, on subsistence economy or labour migration to the other cities and provinces of South Africa. The Eastern Cape Technikon concentrates its main activities in the Transkei region, as it believes that high quality, equitable higher education promotes social mobility and well being of larger social constituencies and thereby stabilising such a society. It draws the majority of its students from the Transkei High Schools, which are characterised by poor quality of education. The Technikon offers tertiary education in appropriate technology at Diploma, Higher Diploma, Degree and Higher Degree level to fulfil the needs of the Eastern Cape Province with special emphasis on serving the area covering the Border and Transkei from the Fish River up to Umzimkhulu River in the East of the Eastern Cape, and wishes to maintain co-operative working relationship with other tertiary educational institutions in the Province. 

However, the region is poor and has a strong rural base. The Eastern Cape Technikon therefore seeks to play an interventionist role by producing graduates with qualifications, which are relevant to the socio-economic needs of the region.

The Eastern Cape Technikon serves, almost exclusively, the previously disadvantaged groups of the South African society. The Technikon believes that this is a meaningful contribution to the labour market needs of the economy and consolidation of social justice and democracy hence its emphasis on higher education provision to the poor rural communities.

The geographic origins of the student population at the Eastern Cape Technikon has almost always been from rural Eastern Cape Province, therefore the mobility is costly for most of the students at the Eastern Cape Technikon as most other institutions of higher learning are located in the metropolitan areas of South Africa which are far, and where basic services are expensive and ill affordable to the students. The Technikon also undertakes practical project research work for the community and the various industries operating in the Province and endeavours to ensure that the private sector is represented on the Technikon's...
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