Basic Education Challenges

15% of South Africa’s total budget was spent on basic education in the last 12 months that ended March 2016. That is about R213.7bn. Regardless of the money spent, South Africa’s primary education system was rated 126th out of 138 countries in the WEF 2016 17 Global Competitiveness Report. While South Africa’s higher education and training was ranked 134 th these rankings are dismal.

The value of education has never been better understood than how it was in post Apartheid South Africa. The reality is that Grade 1 is a big deal for parents who didn’t have the same opportunity. This is still a great joy to many South African parents. However, for some, the joy fades away as their child progresses through school. This is a direct result of the challenges facing our education system.

The Dept. of Basic Education matric class of 2019 achieved a pass rate of 81.3%, up from 78.2% in 2018. But the number should be seen in context. In 2017, over 1 million learners were enrolled in grade 10, yet only 409 906 learners eventually passed matric last year. The higher certificate requires 40% or higher in the home language as well as in two other subjects and at least 30% in three other subjects. Only 45% of matrics that passed, passed with a grade high enough for admission into a bachelor’s degree.

Per capita, South Africa spends more on education than most advanced economies such as the United States and the United Kingdom, yet South Africa’s education system performs worse than poorer nations such as Zimbabwe, Kenya and Swaziland. This clearly shows that our education system does not reflect the money we’ve put into the system. We want to uncover the leading causes of this failure from a citizen’s perspective.

Basic Education Challenges Dialogue