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South Africa today consistently ranks as one of the most discriminatory countries in the world. Land reform, housing, life expectancy, income inequality, quality of life and many more social outcomes are all substantial aspects that lead into this separation. The GINI Index, a statistical measurement dispersion intended to represent income or wealth distribution of a nation’s residence which most commonly used measure of inequality, rates South Africa as 60 on a scale of 100 (FRED, 2018). The segregation system of South Africa’s apartheid government, which lasted from 1948 to 1991, is largely to blame for the inequality.
Today, South Africa’s education system is extremely affected by this inequality, and has still never fully recovered from racist legislature that was designed to render the majority of the black population disenfranchised from both the education system and the economy. Today, South Africa invests a considerable amount in education since the end of the apartheid. For example, in 2013, 19.7 percent of the countries total budget went straight to education (UNICEF, 2018).
However, the ripple effect of the discriminatory education system of the apartheid system continues to effect South Africa as generations were education by an inferior system. The progress made to date is still uniformly viewed as insufficient to the needs of the country and its black majority population, and the education system is still by any standard, flailing both the student and the country. This paper will outline the facts of what was the education system like pre-apartheid, what effects happened to the education system and what is the education system like now.
Apartheid is an African word meaning “separation”, or literally “apartness”. It also has the meaning of any legally sanctioned system of racial segregation or a policy of discrimination on grounds of race (Warden, 2011). The apartheid system in South Africa was created after World War ll by the Afrikaner-dominated National Party who were white South African under German, Belgian, French, and Dutch descent. After the National party gained power, they implemented a white dominated government that began the apartheid system. The apartheid system was largely based on racial segregation that divided the people of South Africa into three main groups: white, black, and colored that were kept apart by law (SAHO, 2018). These separations were largely based off social standing, appearance, and decent of the individual. In the early 1950’s, homelands were created as a way to segregate the different ethnic groups by forcing them to stay in their own homeland. The idea behind these reservations was to strip the citizens’ rights as a south Africans and making the people citizens of their own specific homeland. Therefore, the white dominated South African government would then hold complete indirect dominance over the homelands. Besides segregation, the apartheid also effected the quality of life, employment and, more importantly, education.
To look into what effects the apartheid had in South African education, one must look into what Education was in South Africa leading up to the apartheid. In South Africa, the minority white population retained control of the government when the then-Union of South Africa gained full independence from the United Kingdom in 1931 (The commonwealth, 2018). When South Africa gained independence, the existing education system was extremely segregated and unfair with black education neglected. According to Driekie Hay, who is one of the leading scholars in South Africa’s education system, “While white schooling was free, compulsory and expanding, black education was sorely neglected.” Underfunding and an urban influx led to gravely insufficient schooling facilities, teachers and educational materials as well as student absenteeism or non-enrollment (Hay, 2009). Before the apartheid, African schools were run by three evident systems. The first was public funding of the schools that developed after the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1902. (Christi, 1991).
The government attempted to match the education system of Europeans and thus brought teachers from overseas to teach predominantly white students. Moreover, a majority of public funding and care went into these schools, as education was extremely important to those who were privileged. The second education system was the Christian National Education, which was a parallel school system created by the Afrikaners and other non-English citizens (Fiske &Ladd, 2004). The main purpose of these schools was to have a curriculum that differentiated away from public schooling so that Afrikaners could retain some culture and identity (Omer-Cooper, 1994). The third system was mainly used for Africans and nonwhites that were run by Christen missionaries (Hylsop, 1993). This school system consisted of primary and secondary schools plus some colleges. Nelson Mandela and many other political activists had attended mission schools. (Nolovu, 2002). But then a change occurred and in 1945, three years before the Nationalists came to power, where two statements were made by the House of Assembly, which contained predominantly Nationalists. “As has been correctly stated here, education is the key to the creation of the proper relationship between European and non -European in South Africa…Put native education on a sound basis and half the racial questions are solved…I say that there should be reform of the whole educational system and it must be based on the culture and background and the whole life of the native himself in his tribe.”
The second half of this declaration is more racist and ethnically segregating. “We should not give the natives an academic education, as some people are too prone to do. If we do this we shall later burdened with a number of academically trained Europeans and non-Europeans, and who is going to do the manual labor in the country? I am in though agreement with the view that we should so conduct our schools that the native who attends those schools will know that to a greater extent he must be the laborer in the country (Apartheid, its Effects on Education, Science, Culture, and Information, 1967). With this statement, we see the government starting to believe that the only way to gain equality in both education and cultural rights could come about though separateness, and thus Bantu education started. Bantu education ended the relative autonomy certain missionary schools had enjoyed. Instead of the government funding of black schools became conditional on the acceptance of a racially discriminatory curriculum administered by the new Department of Bantu Education in the apartheid. Most missionary schools for Africans chose to close rather than promote apartheid in education (Nolovu, 2002).
We have learned in class that the major downfall of Africa as a whole was its colonialization from European nations. These Europeans believed that the native South Africans were morally inferior, and exploited the labor of the local populations. Thus, at the beginning of the apartheid, government sanction education was based on labor of the ethnic groups. In 1948, the year that the apartheid started, 90 percent of the black population (of the few that went to school) went to mission schools, which were not answerable to the country’s provincial government. (Heaton, 2018). When the nationalists took power, they then forced every citizen to register his or her own race to restrict were nonwhites could work and be educated. This act is very similar to Jewish cities under Nazi control during the same time period where they forcibly segregated the education department.
With this segregation of citizens, the government then could control Education with the Bantu Education Act of 1955. Bantu educated schools suffered greatly from neglect from the South African Government. Differences in funding between African American schools and white schools made such a disparity in the quality of education between the races that it created the Bantu education Account of 1955. This created mandated African education that was to be funded by the general poll tac that was to be collected by the Africans rather than form the general public. This also led to a teacher, student ratio of African classrooms to a 1:39, compared to 1:18 in white schools, and a 15 percent teacher certification rate in black schools (Mckeever, 2017). This was followed by the Colored Education Act in 1960 and the Indian Education Act (Wieder, 2001), which further strengthened racial segregation legislation of South Africa during the Apartheid regime.
The development of segregated schools brought on a considerable change in overall wellbeing. As black schools lacked the education standards as white schools, schools teaching non-whites received a fraction of the government expenditure that were given to white Schools. For example, in 1946, the government was paying more than 20 times per capita for white education as for African American education (Thompson, 1990). In addition to lack of funding, overcrowding of schools were a major problem for the black community (Case & Yogo, 1999). With this, teachers in these schools were much less qualified than those found in White Schools (Fiske &Ladd, 2004). With this continual increase of inequality of education during the apartheid, it directly led to a decrease in quality of life in black South Africans. Due to rising levels of education and funding for white citizens, it created generations of a more advanced race that led to separate development. Therefore, this ideology was a central feature of apartheid. This led to all three racial groups to be developed as separate and “complete societies” (Thompson, 1990).
This decreased the level of employment, income level, and overall production in the black community. According to the Human development index, in 1980 the HDI was .56, with 1 being the most developed (KNOEMA, 2018). With income inequality, white citizens held well over 90 % of the overall wealth, even though they were the staggering minority (Nix, 2018). According to Matthew Mckeever, “Consequently, apartheid was not a straightforward denial of education for non-Whites, but instead a system that led to some Blacks achieving a high level of education, with the vast majority having little opportunity for learning” (Mckeever, 2017).
With this segregation in educational opportunity, it is no surprise that previous studies have documented extreme inequalities in the amount of education attained by South Africans (Sibana, 2005). In the 1996 census, the first taken of the country as a whole, showed that the median educational level for Africans was only primary school, with nearly one quarter having no education at all. In contrast, the median level for whites was a complete high school degree, with one quarter having a college education (Statistics South Africa, 1999). Even through governmental change that happened relatively quickly in the 1990s, changes in the distribution of education could not hope to keep pace because such a large proportion of those currently living in South Africa went to school during the apartheid era. The inequalities created then continue to affect the population even today, 20 years after the transition to democracy (Dreyer, 1989; Rakometsi, 2008).
As I have mentioned before, since the end of the apartheid, South Africa has invested a considerable amount in their education. For example, in 2013, South Africa spend 19 percent of its total budget on education alone, an amount greater than the United States and UK’s education budget. However, this amount of money is still not enough to overcome the racial divide that still exists in the country (Mbiza, 2018). According to the Economist, in 2016, South Africa ranks 75th out of 76 countries. South African schools have a 27 percent literacy rate of students who have attended school for 6 years, only a 37 percent of children starting school go on to pass the matriculation test (a test students take at the end of their secondary school). This has led to a divide in test scores between the top 20 percent of schools and the rest, the greatest divide of school systems in the world (South Africa has one of the world’s worst education systems, 2016). In South Africa, there also exists a rural-Urban divide. According to the Children’s Institute, 13 percent of urban six grade students were illiterate in 2007, compared to a staggering 41 percent in rural schools. This information is to show that even through an increase of funding for education, money cannot fix the problem that exists due to the apartheid.
To look at the comparisons between the education system during apartheid and post-apartheid, there is not much statistical differences. Both have advanced inequalities that not only effect there educational standing, but also effect their basic quality of life. The key instances between the two is that by the end of the apartheid, South Africa attempted to end the segregation and the off balanced wealth distribution that existed in the country. In reality, even with all the opportunities and money that are now available for the African Americans in South Africa, the apartheid had such a negative effect through education that the majority of the country cannot make a better life for themselves due to the quality of schooling though bantu education. However, even though the increase of funding and de segregation that was brought on though the apartheid, we do not see a significant increase in quality of life.
In terms of a country, having a well-trained and well-educated population is essential for any economic or social prosperity. According to OECD Better Life Index, “Education plays a key role in providing individuals with the knowledge, skills and competences needed to participate effectively in society and in the economy. Having a good education greatly improves the likelihood of finding a job and earning enough money” (OCED, 2018). Like in the United States, upper level education is extremely important when looking at future income and employment. South Africans only have a 43 percent completion rate of upper secondary education, compared to the aver of 74 percent (OCED, 2018). The level of education has a direct impact for jobs and employment for South Africans. For example, only 43 percent of people from 15 to 64 in South Africa had a payed job, which is below the OECD average unemployment of 67 percent.
If looking at just African Americans, the employment rate is even lower, with the majority of jobs hard labor. For instance, 19 percent of employees work long hard hours, which is more than the average of 13 percent. As education effects employment, it also has a negative effect on overall health. According to the OCED, the average life expectancy for South Africa is 57 years old, significantly lower than the world average of 80 years (OCED, 2018). As health is extremely important when looking at the quality of life, you can also look at the satisfaction. On average, South Africans are less satisfied with their lives then the OCED average. With this information about South Africa, it can be assumed that due to decreased levels of education during the apartheid, and the lack of rebounding after the apartheid ended, that the overall quality of life has decreased across the board.
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