VADUZ, Liechtenstein, December 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
South Africa is facing an education crisis. It has failed to uphold the dream of former South Africa leader Nelson Mandela - to provide equal opportunity to the nation's young through education, writes World Review author Dr Pauline Dixon, senior lecturer in International Development and Education at the University of Newcastle, UK.
'Mr Mandela, who led the nation from apartheid to democracy, believed that education was key to emancipation, social mobility - and to the future prosperity of South Africa. Yet this principle has still yet to be realised,' she says.
Results from South Africa's Department of Basic Education school monitoring survey in 2011, which looked only at public schools, shows that minimum standards were not met in 14 out of 15 indicators. Main concerns include teaching posts not being filled, the lack of curriculum being covered in a week, and the high number of pupils who are unable to access library facilities and enjoy basic physical infrastructure such as school buildings, grounds, furniture, equipment and apparatus believed essential to impart education.
'The teaching of mathematics in rural and poor schools is the worst in southern and eastern Africa,' says Dr Dixon. 'Children in poorer African countries such as Lesotho and Zambia are out performing children in South Africa. Findings by the Centre for Development and Enterprise show that less than one quarter of Class 6 teachers were able to answer Class 6 maths questions correctly.'
'It is not surprising that between 2000 and 2010 the number of public schools dropped by nine per cent while the number of independent schools increased by more than 44 per cent. The number of pupils enrolled at independent schools has risen by more than 50 per cent in that period.'
South Africa's education system is now seeing an alternative developing - a de facto privatisation of schooling. Studies show that there is a small, but growing low-fee private schooling sector in South Africa.
The growth in independent education is relatively new. But it is displaying innovation and a keenness for people to get involved - driven by two factors - profit and the demand created by the inadequacy of public schooling.
'Some argue that South Africans have forgotten that change can come from the grassroots, from ordinary people acting in their own best interest. But in years to come the expansion and growth of low-cost private schools - through parents voting with their feet - might overcome some of the acquiescence to state domination.'
About the author
World Review author Dr Pauline Dixon is a senior lecturer in International Development and Education at Newcastle University in the North East of England. She is Research Director of the E.G. West Centre at the university and Degree Programme Director of the Masters in International Development and Education. She lectures in economics, education policy and quantitative methods. Dr Dixon's research in India, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, China, and Tunisia, investigates education for the poorest living in slums and shanty towns.
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