Newsletter 260 - "Broken & Unequal" - The State of Education in South Africa - Amnesty International - PART 1
Amnesty International delivered in early 2020 a report on a limited investigation of the South African Education System. The Report is called "Broken & Unequal" - The State of Education in South Africa;
- The report builds on and acknowledges the work of a number of national experts and NGOs who have been working on the issue of education in South Africa for many years.
- It also highlights the scrutiny by a range of international and regional human rights bodies during the last five years with respect to South Africa’s obligations concerning the right to education.
- Different bodies have repeatedly raised many issues highlighted in this report, such as poor infrastructure, teaching challenges, and widespread and persistent inequality.
- We would like to acknowledge and thank all those who cooperated with us and gave their time to assist us with this research.
- By publishing this report now, with the government and President recommitting to tackling some of the key issues we highlight, Amnesty International seeks to contribute to the debate concerning this vital issue whilst offering constructive and concrete recommendations to ensure a better educational future for all children in South Africa.
- Above all our report seeks to give a voice to those key stakeholders in the system – pupils, parents, teachers – to get a direct sense of how education is being delivered on the ground. Their words together with some striking photographic evidence present a stark picture of the state of education for many in the country.
Here are some of the Department's responses
- The letter we received from Amnesty International provided some information about the methodology employed in their research, namely that it was based on field research conducted in 38 schools in the Quintile 1-3 range in Gauteng and Eastern Cape serving poorer communities, including interviews with over 300 people involved in the education system - learners, parents, teachers, state officials, experts, civil society and School Governing Bodies (SGBs).
- Although this sampling strategy may have been appropriate for the purposes of the report, it must be recognized by all reading this report that the findings cannot be interpreted as a nationally or even provincially representative reality. In other words, the findings cannot be interpreted as representative of the state of education in South Africa as a whole, but rather as representing a specifically chosen group of schools located in the poorer and more rural parts of two provinces.
- Although there is no official system of “School Inspection”, at least not by that name, the department monitors the quality of support offered to schools by district officials.
- According to the 2017 School Monitoring Survey, 84% of schools nationally had been visited at least twice by district officials for monitoring and support purposes. This value can be regarded as a significant achievement in light of the huge distances that must be covered by district officials in some of the more rural areas.
- A substantively larger percentage of secondary schools (94%) than primary schools (80%) received at least two visits from district officials in 2017 – this points to a specific need to bolster the support offered to primary schools.
- The survey also found that 78% of principals were satisfied with the quality of monitoring and support visits by district officials.
THE REPORT COVERS THE FOLLOWING CHAPTERS
1. METHODOLOGY 14
2. BACKGROUND 16
2.1 Inequality and education 16
2.2 The Legacy of colonialism and apartheid 18
2.3 The Right to quality education 20
3. SOUTH AFRICA'S EDUCATION SYSTEM 22
3.1 Legal framework 22
3.2 Policy, plans and strategy 23
3.3 Organizational structure 25
4. SOME KEY CHALLENGES FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION IN SOUTH AFRICA 28
4.1 Poverty and inequality 28
4.2 Poor educational outcomes 30
4.3 Multiple languages 33
5. POOR INFRASTRUCTURE 35
5.1 Struggling to overcome apartheid’s legacy 37
5.2 Continued use of poor and dangerous infrastructure 39
5.3 Gauteng: failings in South Africa's wealthiest province 47
5.4 Eastern Cape: difficulties in overcoming the toxic legacy of apartheid 49
5.5 Sanitation: unacceptable and dangerous 54
5.6 Government responses: resources failing to meet need 61
5.7 Conclusions 64
6. OTHER BARRIERS TO THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION 65
6.1 Inadequate school transport to and from school 67
6.2 Unsafe learning environments 70
6.3 Overcrowded classes 72
6.4 Teacher shortages 74
6.5 Excessive teacher workloads 76
6.6 Teacher capacity and training 78
6.7 Conclusions 81
7. FUNDING FOR EDUCATION 82
7.1 Levels of funding: keeping pace with needs? 85
7.2 Dysfunctional funding formula 87
7.3 Fees versus no fees: the need to ensure all schools are adequately funded 90
7.4 Conclusions 91
8. GOVERNANCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY GAPS 93
8.1 Governance and School Governing Bodies 93
8.2 Monitoring and inspection 96
8.3 Conclusions 98
9. INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL STANDARDS 99
9.1 Key provisions of international and regional law 101
9.2 Content of the right to education 101
9.3 Scrutiny 102
10. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 107
10.1 Conclusions 107
10.2 Recommendations 108
Annex A: Survey questionnaire sent to School Governing Body representatives 110
Annex B: Results of NASGB survey 112
Annex C: Responses from the South African Department of Basic Education 114