How to fix SA’s education system

For over 50 years apartheid education deliberately designed to privilege whites and disadvantage black South Africa. Almost 20 years after the end of apartheid with South Africa having and one of the highest budget spending on education in the world (20% of GDP), the South African education system still propagates the inequality of the apartheid era. 

The South African (SA) government spends the equivalent of $1225 per child on primary education, yet accomplishes less than the government of Kenya ($258 per child) and Zimbabwe ($100 per child). If the problem is not a lack of money, then just what has gone wrong?

The critical element to understand is that history alone is not the only reason why South Africa’s education system is in a crisis. Find below listed a list of the 10 top challenges faced by South Africa’s education system  and 10 possible solutions that can solve South Africa’s education system.

The biggest challenges facing education are

  1. Children are coming out of school without the the 3 basic R’s of education that is the ability to read, wRite and aRithmetics
  2. South African teachers do not have the basic pedagogic and content knowledge competencies needed to impart the skills needed by our learners.
  3. Resources are being used in a non efficient manner with little accountability and transparency.
  4. Inadequate organizational support to teachers and  bureaucracy in the educational department.
  5. Constant shift in South Africa’s educational curriculum
  6. Failure of the Education Departments to deliver on their core responsibilities.
  7. South African learners do not have a culture of reading and a lack the motivational push to learn from their community and families
  8. Teacher late-coming, absenteeism and an inability to enact the basic functions of teaching are endemic in many South African schools
  9. Power  dynamics at play between a seemingly all-powerful teachers’ union (SADTU) and the State
  10. Lack of basic amenities, infrastructure and learning resources in South African  townships and rural schools
  11. Many learners in South African townships and rural areas come from families affected by poverty, hunger and parents with little or no education themselves.
  12. A lost generation of learners who are not educated nor working because of the state of South Africa's education system.

The solution

1.      Early in the schooling system the focus should be on producing learners who can read, write and count.

2.      Reopen teacher training colleges since they provided a focused approach in the development of teachers and instill a sense of pride among teachers and teaching in general.

3.      Put in place internal controls to increase accountability, transparency of the learning process and the use of resources towards education at all government levels and in the classroom.

4.      Dedicated focus in improving the resources and infrastructure in township and rural schools

5.      Celebrate South Africa’s entrepreneurs and learned academic success, conduct career guidance counseling at an early age.

6.      Stability in the South African education curriculum by involving all stakeholders in developing an effective curriculum for South Africa.

7.      Introduce adult education programs, libraries and career guidance programs in South African townships and rural areas to encourage a culture of reading among learners and their families. 

8.      The Department of education should ensure rapid filling of vacant posts and efficient handling of disciplinary cases, or the support of teacher development

9.      The government should take political control of the education system and depoliticize unions in the education sector.

10.  National program to equip the supply of learning materials, the provision of libraries, toilets, repair of windows and leaking roofs, maintenance of desks and infrastructure in South African rural and township schools.

11.  Provide bursaries, school feeding programs, life orientation programs and counseling programs to learners in rural areas and townships

12.  Open vocational training centers and out of school programs to improve the skills of South Africans who are not in school and not working .

The reason why education is such an important pillar towards South Africa's development pathway is because a proper education remains the only way to break the cycle of underdevelopment and poverty in the majority South Africans are still caught.

A proper education has the potential to increase the employability or  income generating capacity of South Africa's majority poor thereby enabling them to be employed or be entrepreneurs in their own right mitigating on the high inequality levels in South Africa.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
Matric results are out! Are you happy with your child's result?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
No, the pandemic really messed up their ability to focus
35% - 145 votes
Yes, they did well given the circumstances
65% - 273 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.