Education: Imbalance of SA’s schools

The South African educational system has never been crisis-free. A recent assertion indicates that SA’s schools are “dysfunctional”. The Basic Education Department, however, refused to acknowledge the claim without evidence. Based on a small data sample, the fact that 80% of SA’s schools are being paralysed is undeniable.

The “dysfunctional” educational system of South Africa is just another way the country’s government “abuses black people”, according to Ernst Roets, deputy chief executive of the Afrikaner civil-rights organisation, AfriForum. The main problem is not black vs. white or white people’s attitude, but government’s withdrawal of support, despite the allegiance of black people.  The basic education minister conceded that black children’s affliction is not a secret in terms of education in SA’s townships, regardless of the small percentage of SA schools that’s being considered as “functional”.

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March 27 th, 2015

Why is it still dysfunctional?

Back in 2012, Economist report states that the education minister herself admitted that 80% of schools are “dysfunctional”. Three million South Africans, aged 18-24, have had no education, training or employment and five years later, still remain jobless. Schools have been ill-equipped and are performing poorly. In addition, more or less 75% of students come from dysfunctional schools, according to Nicholas Spaull’s article Education in SA: a tale of two systems. The high disproportion of education system has been the fruit of the post-apartheid government. Though spending has reduced since 1994, public expenditure on education has been unequal between black students and white students. The amount spent per white learner is twice as much as on black children in townships, and five times higher than black students in the most impoverished homeland.

Three years ago, schools had good systems to manage class attendance by measuring the attendance level of staff and students in order to rate the schools’ performance and functionality. But the department has stopped categorising whether they are functional or dysfunctional.  Instead, the department has evaluated performance based on matric examination results. According to Mhlanga, the department considers supporting only those performing below 70% at high school level, and below 40% performance in primary schools.

Two types of school systems

Research, conducted through analysing South African data from the Southern and Eastern African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality, shows the outperforming students in South Africa’s wealthiest 25% of schools evokes a large split between historical-school-system and socioeconomic lines. The department, however, disregards the statistics by citing a few elements such as curriculum implementation, school nutrition, governance and management, but no tangible evidence to support the claim.

While the department, having its own ranking system based on performance, rejected the facts above, new data is expected to be published within the next two years and time will show whether interventions are paying off.


School infrastructure effort

Furthermore, the government has allocated a budget of R939 million on education infrastructure for Gauteng province for the 2014/15 financial year. Various programmes for the Gauteng Department of Education, with regard to rehabilitation, refurbishment and upgrading, including fencing, Grade R, septic tanks and upgrades of full service schools were undertaken, according to Gauteng Infrastructure Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza .

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