The Causes of Poor Education in South Africa

Most assuredly, the causes of poor education in South Africa are myriads and can be considered as relatable problems that are existentially common to the African populace, especially the South African youth who are not an exception. The South African education system is characterized by the following:

  • Crumbling infrastructure
  • Overcrowded classrooms

These are relatively poor educational outcomes, is perpetuating inequality and as a result failing too many of its children, with the poor hardest hit according to a new report published by Amnesty International today. It is said that for South Africa to comply with both its own constitutional and international human rights obligations with respect to education, major change is needed urgently.

The right to quality education includes having a school where learners are safe to learn and have the adequate infrastructure and facilities to do so, but our research has found that this is not the reality for many learners in the country. The report details how the education system continues to be dogged by stark inequalities and chronic underperformance that have deep roots in the legacy of apartheid, but which are also not being effectively tackled by the current government.

It brings to the fore that many schools and the communities they serve continue to live with the consequences of the political and economic decisions made during the apartheid era where people were segregated according to their skin color, with schools serving white communities properly resourced. The result of this modern-day South Africa is that a child’s experience of education still very much depends on where they are born, how wealthy they are, and the color of their skin.

In these circumstances it is not surprising that educational outcomes remain relatively poor. For example, a recent international survey found that more than three quarters of children aged nine cannot read for meaning. In some provinces this is as high as 91% in Limpopo and 85% in the Eastern Cape. And of 100 learners that start school, 50-60 will make it to matric, 40-50 will pass matric, and only 14 will go to university.

The Causes of Poor Education in South Africa

Like it is said before, the causes of poor education in South Africa is not in any way new to the continent itself. However, we shall be looking into some of them one after the other, and we hope you take consciousness of them.

Lack of Quality Schools for the Blacks

School is much more than a building where teaching takes place. School also includes teachers, teaching materials, and all those other things that make an education system. However, all this requires money. The economic position of South Africa is blossoming but the supply to some segregated parts is so small that even with all the help they receive, they do not have enough funds to build schools to provide the necessary education to their children.

Read Also: Countries with Lack of Education in Africa

Importance of Education

The economic situation and a low level of education in some deep parts or black neighborhoods in South Africa are the main reasons why children are forced to struggle for survival from an early age, leaving no time for education.

Expensive Fees

Another economically-based reason is the fact that many families do not have enough money even for the basic needs, which is why children in such families have to work from an early age. According to research, about 300 million children between the ages of five and seventeen work,  so child labor is one of the major causes for lack of education. For many underdeveloped countries and economically struggling parts of the world especially the black South Africans, education is a luxury that is often unaffordable to most.

Unfavorable Geographical Position

Black South African areas lack the needed infrastructure or are located in the parts of the world with severe climate which makes commuting to school significantly more difficult.

Racial Prejudice

Members of ethnic and other minorities in South Africa, as well as children with disabilities are often the target of prejudice in some countries, which makes it more difficult for them to get an education in comparison to other groups.

Inadequate Conditions

According to UNICEF, the lack of qualified teachers, inadequate teaching materials, and poor sanitation are some of the reasons why many children do not receive a quality education. Even when they do go to school, children in such conditions fail to acquire applicable and quality knowledge, sometimes even basic knowledge. UNICEF states that 617 million children and adolescents around the world fail to acquire even the minimum literacy and math knowledge, although two thirds of them attend school.

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