“Black youths are not educationally worse off than 20 years ago”

By Drum Digital
25 January 2017

This is a strong message from the Department of Basic Education in an attempt to dispel media reports that black and coloured youth in South Africa are less likely to complete university today than in previous years.

In a statement released today the Department makes reference to an article written by Business Day last year, entitled “Black youth less educated now than 20 years ago.”

The Department says black people have become substantially more likely to access early childhood development, complete primary school, matric and a university degree today.

The Department also made reference to a News 24 article, published earlier this week, that quoted the Statistician General and said, “In the 1980s, for every black graduate there were 1.2 white graduates. Currently, for every one black person who graduates from university, there are six white people who make it through successfully.”

In a statement, Elijah Mhlanga, the Department’s spokesperson says this is factually incorrect.

“In fact, the number of black graduates per year increased more than 16-fold between 1986 from 3 400 graduates, and in 2012 to 63 000 graduates,” he says.

“This is according to a Stellenbosch University analysis of Higher Education data conducted by Dr Hendrik van Broekhuizen.”

Mhlanga says the number of black matriculants qualifying for university admission has doubled.

“All of this is by no means to deny that unacceptable levels of inequality on the basis of race still exist,” he says.

“This inequality is glaring whether one looks at the quality of learning achieved by children in specific school grades, or the proportions of youths completing matric or the proportions of youths completing university. In each case, our black and coloured youths remain at a considerable disadvantage.”

Ntuthuzo Ndzomo, Deputy General Secretary at Equal Education, says there are several reasons why it is more difficult for a black student to obtain a university to degree.

“There’s a high drop-out rate for black students, more so than other races because of financial reasons and the type of schooling they get at primary and secondary school level,” he says.

However, he does not agree with the narrative that black students are educationally worse off than 20 years ago.

“There has been a significant increase in student’s tertiary education, an increase in enrolment also proves this and there are more black students entering former white universities like University of Cape Town,” he adds.

Nzomo says there certain degrees that black learners struggle to obtain like Law and Engineering.

“This is also based on the type of schooling they got at primary and secondary school level.”

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