South Africa has a high-cost, low-performance education system that does not compare favorably with education systems in other African countries, or in similar developing economies. There is a multitude of well-publicised problems, including a shortage of teachers, under qualified teachers and poor teacher performance. In the classroom, this results in poor learner standards and results, a lack of classroom discipline and is exacerbated by insufficient resources and inadequate infrastructure. On a government level, difficulties have been caused by a failure of appropriate inspection and monitoring, and confusion caused by changing curricula without proper communication and training. All this has lead to massive demoralisation and disillusionment among teachers and a negative and worsening perception of the teaching profession. Majority of learners in South Africa are bi- or multi-lingual, and attends school in a language that is not their first language.
2. INEQUALITIES FACING EDUCATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
2.1 Educational inequalities amongst blacks
Amongst blacks, educational inequality largely follows the lines of income: more affluent Households are better able to support their children through school, implying increasing stratification within black society. Children from the top two black deciles progress Considerably better through the school system than their poorer counterparts and only at age15 start falling behind whites. Private resources were a major factor determining differential black educational outcomes under apartheid. Pupils in Better-off Black households do better in their education, and we find no parallel for Whites. That the education of Blacks but not Whites is constrained by financial resources is further supported by the fact that many Blacks who are not in school (but not Whites). Furthermore, greater recent access to formerly white schools for more affluent blacks may have accentuated qualitative educational differentials amongst blacks.
Data from the 1996 census show mean earnings of full-time employed black workers for whom the educational level of a parent is known, children of the head of household still resident in the household to be substantially higher where the household head has at least matriculated. But is this perhaps solely due to more educated parents having more educated11 children, to differential attainment. In some way the better education of the parent translates into higher earnings for children even Compared to other young workers who also have matriculated, but where the parent had less education. However, it is not clear whether this measures the quality of education, or some other non-observed aspect of human capital transmitted from parents to children. Such premier does decline, though, to about 9% in cases where the children have graduated.
2.2 CHALLENGES FACING FEMALES
Over the years girls education has been given a high level of priority at the highest level. It has been boosted by initiatives, such as free education for girls, President’s Empowerment for Girls Education, just to name but a few. However, despite all these incentives, girls education in the country is still faced with a series of challenges. The challenges facing girl’s education include;
➢ early marriages
➢ teenage pregnancy
➢ peer pressure
➢ low adult literacy
As a result of these factors, it has become very difficult to retain the girl-student in school, especially in the rural areas. Our stand here is that girls must be allowed to finish their education to the highest level, before marrying them off. Parents should be encouraged to desist from such practices as it’s not in the interest of the girl child, female students must also be serious and do away with engaging with men until they complete their schooling. The most common saying among the local people, especially at the provincial areas, is that girl’s education is not important this mentality must be changed and people must understand that education is the key to development.
The performance of girls in schools concerning because it is disheartening to know that despite numerous opportunities available to them, the performance of girls in school is not the least impressive. Something urgent must be done sooner rather than later, quality must not be compromised in our education system.
The Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education had set up girls education unit and introduced lots of initiatives towards addressing these challenges. Principal, among the initiatives, was the Sponsorship Trust Fund for Girls which was launched in 1999, to support the enrolment, retention and performance of girls in Upper Basic and Senior Secondary Schools in the Upper and Central River Regions.
2.3 Quality differentials in education
One should not forget, though, that the quality of education still varies considerably. This is again not unique to South Africa. In some Latin American countries, the poor receive an inferior quality of schooling, with the result that individuals from the lower deciles receive a primary education whose quality is 35 percent lower than that. Although the old dividing lines of race have blurred in education, with many black pupils now attending formerly white schools, shows that most black pupils were still in schools which were predominantly black.
About 5% of the pupils in mainly white schools were black, whilst in mixed schools 40% were black, but there is great quality diversity in mainly black schools, and as a group most formerly black schools still perform much worse than white schools, as reflected in matric pass rates. Judging by the high matriculation failure rates, lenient promotion policies in black schools may cause educational attainment at levels below matriculation to give an inflated impression of educational standards reached, as reflected in cognitive levels mastered.
3. CHALLENGES FACING PRIMARY SCHOOLS
South Africa spends a bigger share of its gross domestic product on education than any other country in Africa. Primary schooling is compulsory for children aged 7 to 15 while an integrated approach to early childhood development aims to give all children between birth and school-going age the best start in life. A No-Fee Schools policy has abolished school fees in the poorest primary schools across the country, helping to attract poor, orphaned, disabled and vulnerable children to school, yet performance levels are lower than in many other countries in the region. High levels of school attendance, gender parity in both primary and secondary education and pro-poor school policies are achievements that contrast with the poor quality of education.
Many children experience a broken journey through school, interrupted by irregular attendance, absent teachers, teenage pregnancy and school-related abuse and violence. Most public schools do not have running water; some do not have libraries and computers. There is limited provision for preschool and special education, the Department of Basic Education has devised strategies to improve learner achievements by 2014. One of these is the Annual National Assessment, intended to provide regular and credible data on learner achievement and inform decision making in the education system. The assessment in 2011 involved numeracy and literacy tests among six million foundation phase which is grade 1 to 3 and intermediate phase grades (4 to 6) learners at government schools. The findings revealed that the quality of teaching is poor, leading to low performance.
The percentage of learners reaching a ‘partially achieved’ level of performance varied from 30 per cent to 47 per cent, depending on the grade and subject considered. Those attaining the ‘achieved’ level of performance varied from 12 per cent to 31 per cent. UNICEF supports government capacity to improve programme planning and results-based management while implementing innovative interventions to improve the quality of teaching and learning in schools. UNICEF also works to strengthen gender-sensitive life skills-based education for adolescent girls and boys in and out of school, with a focus on the prevention of gender-based violence, HIV and teenage pregnancy. The programme also pays particular attention to early childhood and the development of strategies for children’s equitable participation in quality ECD services.
4. SOCIAL FACTORS AFFECTING EDUCATION
The biggest factor is parents, if parent’s place a high value on education and help their children do well and encourage them to push themselves and learn then it does not really matter how wealthy the neighborhood is. A school located in a lower income area will most likely have lower test scores than a school located in upper-middle class area; also our media as a whole in this country is among the factors does not really encourage higher education or even being smart as values.
Even in movies where characters go to college, it is portrayed as a place to party, not to learn. Good parenting in early age of any child, like trying to get them early, and recognition of pictures of dogs, cats, pigs or other animals. Books at home are invaluable to further their education, early reading always enhances a child’s ability to grasp opportunities to progressing a fuller understanding of a subject. Parents who include their children in discussions and opinions are fitting them for communication with others at an early stage.
5. ECONOMIC FACTORS AFFECTING EDUCATION
Money can be a factor in access to educational opportunities. In a perfect world, the amount of money in your bank account would have nothing to do with the quality of education to which you have access. But of course, this is not a perfect world. Truth is, despite various different initiatives to create more and better educational opportunities for the financially strapped, there remain many economic factors related to education on all levels.
5.1 PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND HOUSING
The best public schools are often located in the most expensive districts for homebuyers. When you are a child, you think all schools are the same and where you live has nothing to do with the quality of education you will receive. That is not the case, and it is the reason why many homebuyers and young families in the housing market say their number one priority is finding a home in a good school district. With so many families looking for good public schooling, the best districts are also often the priciest.
Despite the lasting influence of apartheid, educational access is no longer a major problem in South Africa, as more than 90% of children of all race groups remain at school until attaining matric or reaching age 16. The racial gaps in educational attainment (years of education completed) have also been substantially reduced over the past decades. However, there are severe problems with the quality of education of a large part of the South African school system, as reflected in cognitive tests of numeracy and literacy and also shown by matriculation results.
The deficient performance of particularly mainly black schools is a source of concern, as this shows that reduced earnings inequality may well be more difficult than rising educational attainment at lower school levels would indicate. Only limited scope remains for additional resource outlays to redress this malfunctioning of the major part of the school system. Moreover, the evidence shows that more resources is not the solution to bad educational performance, as some of the worst performing schools are well-resourced, whilst some schools perform excellently with limited resources.
Bellew, R. & King, E.M. promoting girls and women’s education: lessons from the past.
Case, Anne & Deaton, Angus. 1999. School inputs and educational outcomes in South Africa. Quarterly Journal of Economics 114(3): 1047-1084
[WEB:] http://mg.co.za/article/2012-07-29,world bank education; the only way to reverse inequality in SA
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