CAPE TOWN — Education in South Africa has faced many challenges. In 2016, the South African Minister of Education Angie Motshekga declared education to be in a state of crisis. Largely affected by apartheid, the education system has slowly been improving so all children have access to a quality education.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranked South Africa’s education system at 75 out of 77 countries in 2015. Additionally, approximately 213,000 out of 800,000 students did not pass their end of the year school exam last year. The Bantu Education Act of 1953, which aimed at ensuring a better education for white students rather than black students by giving them five times the amount of funding, is largely responsible for affecting education in South Africa.
Nelson Mandela restructured the education system when he became president in 1994. Schools no longer segregated by race, but instead, by wealth. The schools in poorer areas received more funding from the country than those in wealthier areas. Despite these changes, the education system continued to benefit those who could pay for their children to go to better schools most, leaving the poorer students with a sub par education.
The South African government gives more of its budget to education than most countries; South Africa allocates 6.4 percent of its budget to education. Whereas, the average amount given in EU countries is 4.8 percent.
A large portion of the problem is the lack of education that the teachers themselves have. A 2007 study found that 79 percent of teachers scored below the expected level of their students on a math test.
The lack of proper education in South Africa has not gone unnoticed by the government. In a recent statement, President Zuma stressed the importance of school, telling students that “education is the key to a brighter future.” President Zuma and the rest of the South African government have begun to push students toward thinking about higher education in their future.
Additionally, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) recently reframed its Action Plan in conjunction with Vision 2030. This national development plan focuses on bettering the country as a whole. The DBE’s Action Plan aims to improve school infrastructure, curriculum delivery, reduce illiteracy, increase the number of students who make it through all 12 grades, ensure an adequate number of excellent teachers and assess the quality of teaching and learning.
Education in South Africa has a long way to go before it is able to achieve its 2030 plan. But, despite the years of turmoil, South African leaders are determined to better the education system within their country.
– Olivia Hayes