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The Great Divide in SA Schools

While the right to basic education is a Human Right in South Africa, not all children have equal opportunities to education, schools and facilities.

Apartheid era disparity and inequality

It has been 20 years since the first democratic election in South Africa but the shadow of the Apartheid regime has still to lift over the education system in the country. Many of the pre-election disparities still exists, with children from disadvantaged communities not receiving the basic school facilities and opportunities as is their right. Faranaaz Veriava from the Mail&Guardian has summed up the urgent steps needed to be taken to address education inequality in South Africa.

“Under apartheid, the school a pupil attended was determined by race. Today, it is determined by what a family can afford. A current legal case being brought by the non-governmental organisation Equal Education aims to reduce the infrastructural disparity between poor and middle-class schools and thereby move the country a step closer to the promise of equal opportunities in education.” Faranaaz Veriava

Public schools in disadvantaged communities

The Mail&Guardian reported the latest national education infrastructure management study by the department of basic education as released in 2011.

  • 3 544 schools have no electricity supply and 804 an unreliable electricity supply
  • 2 402 schools have no water supply and 2 611 an unreliable one
  • 913 schools do not have any ablution facilities and 11 450 still use pit-latrine toilets
  • 79% of schools have no library and only 7% have stocked libraries
  • 17% of schools lack any sporting facilities

More resources equal higher success rate

Redressing the past injustices in education provision is an urgent requirement as there is a direct correlation between the resources a school has access to and their performance in terms of pass rates and employment opportunity. The bigger the obstacles that children face such as their distance to school, lack of facilities and school books, the more likely that they will not regularly attend their schools and the probability exists that they will drop out of school and not finish their education.

The role of volunteer organisations and teaching

Due to the struggle for resources and school facilities, volunteer organisations such as DTR play an important role in the tutoring of children in the community. DTR’s Teaching and Childcare programs ensure that children get the necessary support which their schools are unable to provide. DTR’s international volunteers provide children with new school supplies, repainting and redecorating their schools for a more positive environment and also help children with their homework after hours. Volunteers from abroad also provide meals for the children and teach them sport, stimulating a love for school so that they can finish their education and receive their matric diploma.

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