To fully understand the inequality and injustices of South Africa’s educational system, we relook our country’s history in terms of education and opportunity.
South Africa and the Apartheid Era
With our abundant supply of mineral resources such as gold, diamonds and platinum, South Africa’s shadowy history has thrown a dark cloud over what should be one of the richest nations in Africa. And while many social injustices have been addressed in the 20 years of democracy since the 1994 elections, the educational system is one of the most widespread occasions where economic empowerment have not been felt and where social inequality is still running rampant.
South Africa’s education from 1948 – 1994
During the Apartheid era the government used education as a way to enforce Apartheid and segregation ideals and rules, resulting in discrimination in every aspect of the educational system. Children were educated in Afrikaans, not their mother-tongue and schools were struggling under lack of resources. Unintentionally, the rise of the anti-apartheid struggle also had a negative effect on young children’s perceptions of school, resulting in the school becoming a symbol of the oppressor and a ground for protest only. And while the democratic-elected government has made a number of policy changes in favour of educational support in previously disadvantaged communities, South Africa’s educational system has been faced with many challenges in their aim to provide basic education to all.
Post-Apartheid and the 1994 Democratic Election
Since the new government came to power in 1995, the Minister of Education has implemented various programs through the re-distribution of teachers among poor-performing schools and establishing an outcome-based curriculum. And while the program has received some margin of success, the subsequent lowering of school standards to accommodate all learners from various backgrounds may have inadvertently thrown another spanner in the works of providing basic schooling and schools still struggle to maintain the lowered educational standard.
Challenges facing South African children
South Africa’s resources are not evenly distributed amongst its population with many children not having access to the necessary resources required to maintain a good school attendance. Rural schools face many constraints to education and suffer from lack of resources such as running water and electricity. Some children have to walk for hours in order to reach the school and poverty and financial challenges result in many high school children not finishing their school career due to dropping out in order to provide for their families. South Africa also have 11 official languages which adds more barriers to education as school text books needs to be provided in many languages and cannot necessarily be shared amongst schools and provinces. All of the challenges facing children in South Africa today contribute to the country’s poor pass rates and the prevalence of high school learners not finishing their Matric or Grade 12 diploma.
Volunteer organisations providing educational support
Dreams To Reality is one of the volunteer organisations in South Africa who aim to increase the prospects and futures of impoverished children by giving them access to basic education and computer literacy programs. Our mission at DTR is to provide growing children with a balanced set of skills, taught in and out of the classroom, which will enable them to create a better life for themselves and their families in the near future.