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The Future of South Africa’s Education

South Africa’s Department of Education is divided into two sections: the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Higher Education and Training. The former monitor’s the provision, delivery and performance of education in South Africa’s primary and secondary schools. The latter oversees the performance standards, provision and delivery of education in universities and other post-secondary education in South Africa. This divide was initiated to overcome the system’s administrative overwhelming. Subsequently, with the demise of apartheid, South Africa has prioritised accessible, efficient and quality education for all. 

Although much progress has been made regarding attendance since 1994, Statistics South Africa’s General Household Survey (GHS) In 2019 reported that 12.9% of people over 20 years were functionally illiterate (i.e., have no formal schooling or completed grade 7). Such undermines the educational system and freedom of South Africa. There is a significant amount of money invested in education. However, there seem to be no critical changes. The educational system seems to be having prevalent issues amid democratic policies. Thus, the future of South Africa’s education system is of great importance and should be examined thoroughly by all parties involved.


South Africa’s school system is unequal. There are functional, wealthy schools which carry a small portion of the country’s school-going population. There are dysfunctional, poorly funded schools attended by more than 80% of South African students. According to an article titled Critical Challenges Of The South African School System published in 2012, South Africa’s education system is partially flawed because of poor work ethics, lack of community and parental assistance and poorly performing educators. Several issues may be detected within the education system of South Africa. This includes but is not limited to the following:

    • South Africa’s poor and previously disadvantaged communities are vastly gang-infested, contributing to the overall quality of the education provided in these areas. As a result of gangs, school violence becomes an issue as pupils find it hard to navigate their lifestyles between being gang members and school children. News24 reported that school violence is worse than it is thought about. Violence in schools includes bullying, vandalism, gangsterism, indiscipline, intolerance, and corporal punishment.

    • The Department of Basic Education constituted that learners may pass with 30%, which seems to undermine the intelligence of young people in South Africa. This means the education system is overwhelmed by a lack of literacy amongst pupils, contributing to the high level of dropouts amongst schoolgoers and a limited number of South Africans with post-secondary education qualifications. The Department of Education reports that learners drop out of school because of 1) financial constraints, 2) poor academic performance, 3) family commitments, and 4) lack of motivation.

    • There is also the issue of underperforming educators. This lack thus reflects the inadequate teacher training by universities. According to Nick Taylor, an education expert, “the universities are not teaching new teachers how to teach reading. We need to get foundation phase teachers to teach reading effectively. Everything else follows from there.”

    • There is a lack of adequate school governance. It is believed that many members of the school governing bodies in poor and township communities are unemployed and uneducated, undermining their ability to elevate school governance and education.


With every problem, there are always solutions. Although achieving this may not be easier than enunciated, a lot may be performed in the long run with great patience and consistency. The following pointers may be followed to fix South Africa's education system.

    • The solution to this is to improve the quality of our teachers by providing in-service teacher training and improving university courses.

    • Education must be made an essential service that unwarranted strikes by educators and trade unions should not be allowed to obstruct learning processes. And they should also check with every provincial department of basic education about the distribution of learning and teaching resources.

    • Provincial departments of basic education, the South African Council for Educators (SACE) and the Umalusi Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training must work efficiently to ensure that quality education is delivered to students. They should also make sure that there are adequate resources to facilitate learning. Umalusi can regularly send a Quality Assurance manager to the various provincial departments of basic education to ensure the thorough quality of education. The SACE can also promptly check with the educators it authorises to teach. There should be regular training for practising teachers. 

    • The pass mark should move to 50% because this will make pupils ready for post-secondary education and universities. It will also minimise high dependence on the government as many scholars will be equipped with the ability to be competitive in the global economy. It will also increase the quality of education for both learners and teachers.

    • The government should deploy more police officers to patrol townships and poor communities infested with violent gangs to reduce violence amongst members. This will thus help the pupil to focus more on their studies and be less damaging. In addition, the Department of Education must make sure that schools have psychological support for the pupil provided by trained personnel. Thus, physical and mental security should be prioritised to ensure quality education is delivered.

    • Avbob and Oxford University Press have joined forces to improve South Africa’s literacy. They call this #RoadToLiteracy. There are 180 trolleys filled with Books worth 7 million, which are to be donated to South Africa’s deserving primary school. According to The Stars’ Late Edition report on April 21, 2022, “OXFORD University Press has donated 86 000 books valued at R7 million to the AVBOB Foundation.” AVBOB Foundation was established in 2012 to develop and uplift South Africa’s various communities socially.

The Foundation  
The fact that schools need to be nominated seems to be a great idea since it may give schools that have been discarded by the government an opportunity to improve their literacy. It may reduce the number of school dropouts. A partnership such as this needs to be initiated and implemented by many organisations to help curb illiteracy and poverty in poor communities. The managing director of Oxford University Press Southern Africa, Hanri Pieterse, declares that they envision giving every child in South Africa the gift of reading in their language. Pieterse adds that nothing can transform and empower individual lives, communities and society as much as the ability to read with comprehension and meaning.

Nonetheless, the future of South Africa’s education lies in the hands of its beholders. These issues may be overcome by the continual implementation of effective policies and initiatives that will improve the quality of educators and education. The standard of education must equip learners to transform themselves and their surroundings.


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Tags: Opinion Society Educational

1 comment

6 months, 3 weeks ago by kimlesshope

The issues raised are of major concern. The solutions provided are great starting points!

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