Newsletter 265 - School Development & Improvement Planning 2006-2009 - PART 6
- South Africa has made significant progress on ensuring the right to education for pupils since the end of apartheid.
- Access has widened to the point where there is almost universal participation although the numbers of pupils dropping out before completing their basic education is concerning.
- However, in certain key areas as this report highlights the government – at both national and provincial levels - is not doing enough to meet its own domestic and international legal obligations.
- Too many schools suffer from poor infrastructure compromising the quality of education available for learners.
- These include poorly maintained and unsafe buildings; inadequate sanitation facilities for pupils including pit toilets; and the lack of essential facilities such as a library, computer facilities and information technology.
- Beyond infrastructure there are additional barriers that children in South Africa face to access a quality education.
- Pupils experience a lack of sufficient transport, which often impacts on their ability to access education and may put their safety at risk.
- Teaching is hampered by an insufficient number of trained teachers many of whom have to teach in overcrowded classes with an increasing workload, while the government struggles to address teacher retention and recruitment.
- The government’s approach to resourcing the education system is at the heart of many of these problems.
- Instead of an adequately funded system that ensure that primary education should be compulsory and available free for all in line with a core immediate obligation and that concrete and targeted steps to do the same at the secondary level,
- South Africa chooses to persist with a system whereby a significant number of public schools are still permitted to charge fees.
- Inequality is further compounded by the way that funds are disbursed both between and within provinces to the extent that poorer communities and regions are disproportionately impacted.
- South Africa needs to better monitor and inspect the quality and nature of education being delivered.