South Africa has a 3 tier system of education starting with primary school, followed by high school and tertiary education in the form of (academic) universities and universities of technology.
In 2010, it had 12.3 million learners, 386,000 teachers and around 48,000 schools (8 teachers per school on average) – including 390 special needs schools and 1,000 registered private schools. Officially, primary schools comprise Grade 1 to 7 and High schools Grade 8 to 12. These are extended on either end with Grade 0 and 13 at the discretion of the school.
School life spans 13 years – or grade
Grades are standardized measurements of varying levels of comprehension within a subject area. Grades can be assigned in letters , as a range , as a number out of a possible total , as descriptors , in percentages, or, as is common in some post-secondary...
s – although the first year of education, Grade R or "reception year", and the last three years, Grade 10, 11 and Grade 12 or "Matric" are not compulsory. Many Primary schools offer Grade R, although this pre-school year may also be completed at Nursery.
Recently, great advances have been made in the introduction of new technology to the formerly disadvantaged schools. Organizations such as Khanya, (Nguni for enlightenment) have worked to provide computer access in state schools. A recent national initiative has been the creation of "FOCUS" schools. These specialise in specific curriculum areas (Business & Commerce, Engineering, Arts & Culture) and are very similar to the UK specialist schools programme.
For university entrance, a "Matriculation Endorsement" is required, although some universities do set their own additional academic requirements. South Africa has a vibrant higher sector, with more than a million students enrolled in the country’s universities and universities of technology. All the universities are autonomous, reporting to their own councils rather than government.
South Africa has the concept of public and private schools. They vary according to character, size, quality of education, and financial advantages. Both are promising. Most schools are funded by the state and private schools are funded by fees. 2.8% of the total school population is private equalling 340,000 students. In 2010, the literacy rate is 88.0% and South Africa is listed joint 107th of 180 countries on the world literacy list.
Quotations from leaders
The vision of the education system can be summed up by an ADDRESS BY DEPUTY PRESIDENT KGALEMA MOTLANTHE ON THE OCCASION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF BASIC EDUCATION’S BREAKFAST WITH BUSINESS as follows:
- "Positive examination results are a barometer not only of the learners’ achievement but also of what the efficiency of our education system is. In a country such as ours beset by accumulated disabilities that limit people’s ability to enjoy the fruits of freedom, education is a single critical equaliser. In other words, for a nation like ours to defeat social ills such as poverty and inequality, we need a strong education system that empowers ordinary South Africans to respond with confidence to the imperatives of modern society. As proven elsewhere in the world, education plays a pivotal in the economic growth and development of a country. To this end, tireless efforts revolving around skills development, research and innovation programmes often help countries to modernise and grow their economies. Flowing from this consideration, government has consciously elevated education as one of our five priorities, the others being health, creation of jobs, rural development and fighting corruption."
and the quote by Nelson Mandela, from his book "Long Walk to Freedom":
- "Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farmworkers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another."
Quotations from policy documents
- "Schooling 2025: The vision. The following captures where the DBE would like to be in 2025: Learners … Attend school on time, every day, and take their schoolwork seriously. They have access to computers, a good meal, sporting and cultural activities. They have respectful relationships with their friends and dependable teachers. Teachers … Are confident, well-trained, and continually improving their capabilities. They are committed to giving learners the best possible education, thereby contributing to the development of the nation. They enjoy job satisfaction because their conditions of service are decent and their pay comparable to that of other professions. School principals … Ensure teaching takes place as it should, according to the national curriculum. Through responsible leadership, they promote harmony, creativity and a sound work ethic within the school community and beyond. Parents … Are well informed about what happens in the school, and receive regular reports about how well their children perform against clear standards that are shared by all schools. They know they are listened to, and any concerns will be dealt with by education authorities at all levels. Learning and teaching materials … Are in abundance and of a high quality. Learners and teachers know how to use computers in the school to access information they need. School buildings and facilities … Are spacious, functional, safe and well-maintained. Learners and teachers look after their buildings and facilities because they take pride in their school."
Action Plan to 2014
- "This draft Action Plan is the DBE.s strategy to strengthen weak areas in the education system that have been identified as needing support. It has been developed in line with the Presidency.s 2009 national strategic planning, and draws direction from the guiding document Improving Government Performance: Our approach. By improving performance in these identified areas, learners will benefit from a higher quality education. The nation as a whole will also benefit as school graduates with better skills and knowledge levels enter further and higher education, and the workplace. This document summarises the draft Action Plan the improvements that can be expected, as well as what ordinary citizens can do to contribute towards better schooling. Short-term goals, long-term vision. The draft Action Plan sets out the goals that the national education system will be working towards, and the actions to achieve these goals, by 2014. These are the first steps towards realising the bigger, more long-term vision of quality education in schools by 2025. This vision is called Schooling 2025. Everyone has a part to play. As far as possible, the Action Plan indicates for each stakeholder in the system what activities they should be engaged in to realise each goal in the plan. It also suggests ways that those outside the education system can also provide resources or expertise in support. Clear goals, flexible strategies. The Action Plan sets out 13 goals to be achieved related to learning and enrolment. In addition, it sets out 14 areas in education which need to be improved to reach these goals. The DBE is not, however, telling people exactly what they must do to achieve these goals. The approach is to allow a degree of flexibility so that schools and their communities can come up with strategies that best suit their own situation. Measuring progress: Annual National Assessments (ANA). Each year, all learners in Grades 1 to 6 will write national tests in languages (home language and first additional language) and mathematics at the end of the year. The purpose is to establish an objective national benchmark by which to measure literacy and numeracy achievement levels in primary schools, so that improvement can be accurately assessed, and appropriate interventions designed where additional support is needed. Teachers will mark these standardised tests according to instructions provided by the DBE. Parents will receive the ANA results in learners. annual report cards at the end of the year. School Governing Bodies (SGBs) will receive a district-wide ANA report, which will be shared by other parents of the school, to allow them to compare their own ANA results with those of other schools in the district. The objective in making the results public is not to shame schools, or create perceptions of .winners. or .losers., but rather to give schools and their parent communities an idea of how their achievements compare to those at other schools. In 2011, ANA tests in languages and mathematics will be introduced for Grade 9 learners.
The goals of the Action Plan
- "The Action Plan has 27 goals. Goals 1 to 13 deal with outputs we want to achieve in relation to learning and enrolments.
- Output goals focusing on minimum quality standards.
- Increase the number of learners in Grade 3 who by the end of the year have mastered the minimum language and numeracy competencies for Grade 3. 2009 baseline: +/- 48% (literacy) and 43% (numeracy); 2014 target: 60% for both subjects.
- Increase the number of learners in Grade 6 who by the end of the year have mastered the minimum language and mathematics competencies for Grade 6. 2009 baseline: +/- 37% (literacy) and 19% (numeracy); 2014 target: 60% for both subjects.
- Increase the number of learners in Grade 9 who by the end of the year have mastered the minimum language and mathematics competencies for Grade 9. Baseline and targets will be determined after 2010 ANA.
- Increase the number of Grade 12 learners who become eligible for a Bachelors programme at a university. 2009 baseline: +/- 110 000; 2014 target: 175 000
5 Increase the number of Grade 12 learners who pass mathematics. 2009 baseline: +/- 125 000; 2014 target: 180 000
6 Increase the number of Grade 12 learners who pass physical science. 2009 baseline: +/- 120 000; 2014 target: 170 000
- Output goals focusing on improving average performance.
- Improve the average performance in languages of Grade 6 learners.
- Improve the average performance in mathematics of Grade 6 learners.
- Improve the average performance in mathematics of Grade 8 learners.
- Output goals focusing on access and progression.
- Ensure that all children remain effectively enrolled in school up to the year in which they turn 15. 2008 baseline: 97. 4%; 2014 target: 99%.
- Improve the access of children to quality Early Childhood Development (ECD) below Grade 1. Indicator 1 (% Grade 1 learners who’ve received formal Grade R): 2008 baseline: 51%; 2014 target: 80%, but 100% if non-formal ECD is included. Indicator 2: The enrolment ratio of children aged 0 to 5 2008 baseline: 25%; 2014 target: 37%.
- Improve the grade promotion of learners through the Grades 1 to 9 phases of school. Indicator 1: % of children aged 9 who have completed Grade 3: 2008 baseline: 59%; 2014 target: 65% Indicator 2: % of children aged 12 who have completed Grade 6: 2008 baseline: 46%; 2014 target: 52%.
- Improve the access of youth to Further Education and Training beyond Grade 9. Indicator 1: % of youth who have received an NSC: 2008 baseline: 40%; 2014 target: 50% Indicator 2: % of youth who obtain FET qualifications. 2008 baseline: 41%; 2014 target: 65% Goals.
- to 27 deal with how to achieve the 13 output goals.
- Attract in each year a new group of young, motivated and appropriately trained teachers into the teaching profession.
- Ensure that the availability and utilisation of teachers is such that excessively large classes are avoided.
- Improve the professionalism, teaching skills, subject knowledge and computer literacy of teachers throughout their entire careers.
- Strive for a teacher workforce that is healthy and enjoys a sense of job satisfaction.
- Ensure that learners cover all the topics and skills areas that they should cover within their current school year.
- Learner resources
- Ensure that every learner has access to the minimum set of textbooks and workbooks required according to national policy.
- Increase access amongst learners to a wide range of media, including computers, which enrich their education.
- Whole-school improvements
- Ensure that the basic annual management processes occur across all schools in the country in a way that contributes towards a functional school environment.
- Improve parent and community participation in the governance of schools, partly by improving access to important information via the e-Education strategy.
- School funding
- Ensure that all schools are funded at least at the minimum per learner levels determined nationally and that funds are utilised transparently and effectively.
- School infrastructure and support services
- Ensure that the physical infrastructure and environment of every school inspires learners to want to come to school and learn, and teachers to teach.
- Use the school as a location to promote access amongst children to the full range of public health and poverty reduction interventions.
- Increase the number of schools which effectively implement the inclusive education policy and have access to centres which offer specialist services.
- Improve the frequency and quality of the monitoring and support services provided by district offices to schools, partly through better use of e-Education.
Structure and politics
In January 2011, education is structured as follows: It is represented in parliament by two ministers of education who each head one department, as follows:
- The department of Higher Education and Training, headed by Dr Blade Nzimande; and
- Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Mr Enver Surty.
Each of these departments is headed by a Director General as follows:
- Director General:Higher Education and Training, Ms Mary Metcalfe; and
- Director General: Basic Education, Mr Bobby Soobrayan
Funding for these departments is derived from central government taxes. Schools have head masters and universities have chancellors who head their respective governing bodies. Policies are set by the departments through their ministers.
Execution of policies is the responsibility of the heads of the governing bodies of schools and universities. The department pays for teachers salaries of government schools, while private schools are mostly self funded by parents.
Performance and statistics
The following measures can be used to derive key performance indicators to determine the relative efficacy of the Education system in comparison to other countries and to determine trends over time:
- Number of teachers
- Number of subjects (A minimum of 7 subjects in all high schools in South Africa)
- Number of learners
- Number of classes
- Number of schools
- Number of class rooms
- Education budget
- Number of people who can read and write
- Number of learners in grade 1
- Number of learners in grade 10
- Number of under graduate students
- Number of post graduate students
- Number of adults continuing education
- Number of Matriculants employed
- Number of graduates employed
- Number of graduates emigrating
- Number of graduates immigrating
- Number of people employed
- Number of SMEs
- % of GDP attributable to SME's
- Number of unfilled positions due to lack of qualified people
- Number of unfilled positions filled by under qualified people
- Number of qualified people retiring from work
These measures (among others), when taken over time can be used to determine a trend, and ultimately contribute to understanding whether the system as a whole is working, improving or collapsing.
In South Africa, education plays a huge role compared to other countries. The government spends 20% of the central budget on education.
Black Africans were perceived to have the role of labourers and servants. During the 1980s the young population was committed to destroying the education system due the apartheid. There were strikes and violence which firmly restricted its ability to function in an orderly manner. Despite the huge budget allocated to education since democracy, the effects of apartheid could still be felt 16 years after its demise.
Among the South African population, only 14% of blacks have an education of high school or higher, whereas 40% of Indians and 65% of Whites have an education of high school or higher.
After 1994 when South Africa became a true constitutional democracy, the government of the day formed by the majority party in Parliament (the ANC) instituted their "GEAR" plan and "OBE" (outcomes Based Education). These did not produce the results that were hoped for. There was a single department of education represented in parliament by a single minister. In 2006, the same government implemented the current system of two departments and ministers and a new set of policies.
Technology has become an increasingly important lever, especially in the Western Cape and Gauteng. Khanya has led the way in bringing the formerly disadvantaged schools into the global classroom, sometimes with the support of the UK based, Specialist Schools and Academies Trust. Technology facilitates affordable access to international education.
Many African societies placed strong emphasis on traditional forms of education well before the arrival of Europeans. Adults in Khoisan- and Bantu-speaking societies, for example, had extensive responsibilities for transmitting cultural values and skills within kinship-based groups and sometimes within larger organisations, villages, or districts. Education involved oral histories of the group, tales of heroism and treachery, and practice in the skills necessary for survival in a changing environment.
The earliest European schools in South Africa were established in the Cape Colony in the late seventeenth century by Dutch Reformed Church elders committed to biblical instruction, which was necessary for church confirmation. In rural areas, itinerant teachers (meesters) taught basic literacy and math skills. British mission schools proliferated after 1799, when the first members of the London Missionary Society arrived in the Cape Colony.
Language soon became a sensitive issue in education. At least two dozen English-language schools operated in rural areas of the Cape Colony by 1827, but their presence rankled among devout Afrikaners, who considered the English language and curriculum irrelevant to rural life and Afrikaner values. Throughout the nineteenth century, Afrikaners resisted government policies aimed at the spread of the English language and British values
Britishness is the state or quality of being British, or of embodying British characteristics, and is used to refer to that which binds and distinguishes the British people and forms the basis of their unity and identity, or else to explain expressions of British culture—such as habits, behaviours...
, and many educated their children at home or in the churches.
After British colonial officials began encouraging families to emigrate from Britain to the Cape Colony in 1820, the Colonial Office screened applicants for immigration for background qualifications. They selected educated families, for the most part, to establish a British presence in the Cape Colony, and after their arrival, these parents placed a high priority on education. Throughout this time, most religious schools in the eastern Cape accepted Xhosa children who applied for admission, and in Natal many other Nguni-speaking groups sent their children to mission schools after the mid-nineteenth century. The government also financed teacher training classes for Africans as part of its pacification campaign throughout the nineteenth century.
By 1877 some 60 percent of school-age children in Natal were enrolled in school, as were 49 percent in the Cape Colony. After the Boer War (ended 1902) in the former Afrikaner republics, however, enrolments remained low—only 12 percent in the Orange Free State and 8 percent in the Transvaal—primarily the result of Afrikaner resistance to British education. Enrolments in these republics increased after the government of the Union agreed to the use of Afrikaans in the schools and to allow Afrikaner parents greater control over primary and secondary education.
By the late nineteenth century, three types of schools were receiving government assistance—ward schools, or small rural schools generally employing one teacher; district schools, providing primary-level education to several towns in an area; and a few secondary schools in larger cities. But during the last decades of that century, all four provinces virtually abolished African enrolment in government schools. African children attended mission schools, for the most part, and were taught by clergy or by lay teachers, sometimes with government assistance.
Higher education was generally reserved for those who could travel to Europe, but in 1829 the government established the multiracial South African College, which later became the University of Cape Town. Religious seminaries accepted a few African applicants as early as 1841. In 1852 the independent state of Transvaal and in 1854 the Orange Free State established their own institutions of higher learning in Dutch. The government established Grey College—later the University of the Orange Free State—in Bloemfontein in 1855 and placed it under the supervision of the Dutch Reformed Church. The Grey Institute was established in Port Elizabeth in 1856; Graaff-Reinet College was founded in 1860. The Christian College was founded at Potchefstroom in 1869 and was later incorporated into the University of South Africa and renamed Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education.
Independence to Apartheid
Following the British victory in the South African War, the British High Commissioner for Southern Africa, Sir Alfred Milner, brought thousands of teachers from Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to instill the English language and British cultural values, especially in the two former Afrikaner republics. To counter the British influence, a group of Afrikaner churches proposed an education program, Christian National Education, to serve as the core of the school curriculum. The government initially refused to fund schools adopting this program, but Jan C. Smuts, the Transvaal leader who later became prime minister, was strongly committed to reconciliation between Afrikaners and English speakers, and he favoured local control over many aspects of education. Provincial autonomy in education was strengthened in the early twentieth century, and all four provincial governments used government funds primarily to educate whites.
The National Party (NP) was able to capitalise on the fear of racial integration in the schools to build its support. The NP's narrow election victory in 1948 gave Afrikaans new standing in the schools, and after that, all high-school graduates were required to be proficient in both Afrikaans and English. The NP government also reintroduced Christian National Education as the guiding philosophy of education.
The Bantu Education Act
The Bantu Education Act (No. 47) of 1953 widened the gaps in educational opportunities for different racial groups. Two of the architects of Bantu education, Dr. W.M. Eiselen and Dr. Hendrik F. Verwoerd, had studied in Germany and had adopted many elements of National Socialist (Nazi) philosophy. The concept of racial "purity," in particular, provided a rationalisation for keeping black education inferior. Verwoerd, then minister of native affairs, said black Africans "should be educated for their opportunities in life," and that there was no place for them "above the level of certain forms of labour." The government also tightened its control over religious high schools by eliminating almost all financial aid, forcing many churches to sell their schools to the government or close them entirely.
Christian National Education supported the NP program of apartheid by calling on educators to reinforce cultural diversity and to rely on "mother-tongue" instruction in the first years of primary school. This philosophy also espoused the idea that a person's social responsibilities and political opportunities are defined, in large part, by that person's ethnic identity. The government also gave strong management control to the school boards, who were elected by the parents in each district.
Official attitudes toward African education were paternalistic, based on trusteeship and segregation. Black education was not supposed to drain government resources away from white education. The number of schools for blacks increased during the 1960s, but their curriculum was designed to prepare children for menial jobs. Per-capita government spending on black education slipped to one-tenth of spending on whites in the 1970s. Black schools had inferior facilities, teachers, and textbooks.
Soweto and Its Aftermath
Tensions over language in education erupted into violence on 16 June 1976, when students took to the streets in the Johannesburg township of Soweto. Their action was prompted by the decision of Andries Treurnicht, Deputy Minister of Education in the white government, to enforce a regulation requiring that one-half of all high-school classes must be taught in Afrikaans. A harsh police response resulted in the deaths of several children, some as young as eight or nine years old. In the violence that followed, more than 575 people died, at least 134 of them under the age of eighteen.
Youthful ANC supporters abandoned school in droves; some vowed to "make South Africa ungovernable" to protest against apartheid education. Others left the country for military training camps run by the ANC or other liberation armies, mostly in Angola, Tanzania, or Eastern Europe. "Liberation before education" became their battle cry.
The schools suffered further damage as a result of the unrest of 1976. Vandals and arsonists damaged or destroyed many schools and school property. Students who tried to attend school and their teachers were sometimes attacked, and administrators found it increasingly difficult to maintain normal school activities. Some teachers and administrators joined in the protests.
The National Policy for General Affairs Act (No. 76) of 1984 provided some improvements in black education but maintained the overall separation called for by the Bantu education system. This act gave the minister of national education authority to determine general policy for syllabuses, examinations, and certification qualifications in all institutions of formal and informal education. But responsibility for implementing these policies was divided among numerous government departments and offices, resulting in a bewildering array of educational authorities: For example, the Department of Education and Training was responsible for black education outside the homelands. Each of the three houses of parliament—for whites, coloureds, and Indians—had an education department for one racial group, and each of the ten homelands had its own education department. In addition, several other government departments managed specific aspects of education.
Education was compulsory for all racial groups, but at different ages, and the law was enforced differently. Whites were required to attend school between the ages of seven and sixteen. Black children were required to attend school from age seven until the equivalent of seventh grade or the age of sixteen, but this law was enforced only weakly, and not at all in areas where schools were unavailable. For Asians and coloured children, education was compulsory between the ages of seven and fifteen.
The discrepancies in education among racial groups were glaring. Teacher: pupil ratios in primary schools averaged 1:18 in white schools, 1:24 in Asian schools, 1:27 in coloured schools, and 1:39 in black schools. Moreover, whereas 96 percent of all teachers in white schools had teaching certificates, only 15 percent of teachers in black schools were certified. Secondary-school pass rates for black pupils in the nationwide, standardised high-school graduation exams were less than one-half the pass rate for whites.
As the government implemented the 1984 legislation, new violence flared up in response to the limited constitutional reforms that continued to exclude blacks. Finally, the government began to signal its awareness that apartheid could not endure. By 1986 President P.W. Botha (1984–89) had stated that the concept of apartheid was "outdated," and behind-the-scenes negotiations had begun between government officials and imprisoned ANC leader Nelson Mandela. The gap between government spending on education for different racial groups slowly began to narrow, and penalties for defying apartheid rules in education began to ease.
The apartheid regime created different universities for different race groups, often in close proximity and offering the same courses, but neglected the development of historically black
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...
institutions. Economically, with institutions of uneven capacity, there was an urgent need to cut down on costly duplication and improve quality.
After several years of investigation and consultation, the government announced plans to radically restructure higher education
through mergers and incorporations. This was completed by January 2005 and created 22 institutions out of an existing 36 universities and technikons. Out of the 36 institutions: 22 were selected for mergers; 4 for major incorporations (or loss of facilities); 1 was being dismantled and its multi-sites slotted into other institutions; and there are 10 new university names.