Education in South Africa: How It Works, and How It’s Struggling

It’s January, and that means the start of a new school year in South Africa. In less than a week, students (or learners, as they’re called in South Africa) and teachers will fill classrooms, hoping to embark on a new year of learning, enlightenment, and growth. It’s a good time for students to ride the momentum gained with last year’s record-breaking high school pass rate. For those of us in the United States, Canada, and other Western countries, it’s a good time to learn about the educational experiences that our young South African friends will have this year.Primary education is mandatory in South Africa. According to the country’s Constitution, South Africa has an obligation to make education available and accessible. All South Africans have the right to a basic education, including adult basic education and further education.School in South Africa begins in grade 0, or grade R. It’s the equivalent of our kindergarten, a time of school preparation and early childhood socialization. Grades 0 to 9 make up General Education and Training, followed by Further Education and Training (FET) from grades 10 to 12. Students either stay in high school during this time, or enter more specialized FET institutions with an emphasis on career-oriented education and training. After passing the nationally-administered Senior Certificate Examination, or “matric,” some students will continue their education at the tertiary level, working towards degrees up to the doctoral level. Over a million students are enrolled in South Africa’s 24 state-funded colleges and universities.With a solid educational structure in place, South Africa continues the long and arduous process of overcoming the discriminatory legacy left behind by 40 years of apartheid education. Under that system, white South African children received a quality schooling virtually for free. Black students, on the other hand, had access only to “Bantu education”, a system based on the unjust philosophy that there was no place in South African society for black Africans “above certain forms of labor” (a quote attributed to HF Verwoerd, the architect of the Bantu Education Act of 1953). In the 1970s, government spending on black education was one-tenth of spending on whites. By the 1980s, teacher to pupil ratios in primary schools averaged 1:18 in white schools and 1:39 in black schools. Even the standards for education were different between black and while schools: while 96 percent of all teachers in white schools had teaching certificates, only 15 percent of teachers in black schools were certified. Not surprisingly during apartheid, high school graduation rates for black students were less than half the rate for whites.Bantu education was abolished with the end of apartheid in 1994. Nevertheless, South Africa continues to struggle with inequality and educational disparities. Seventeen years after the end of apartheid, the vast majority of poor black children are denied a quality education at severely deprived public schools. Over three-quarters of these schools do not have libraries, and even more do not have a computer. Around 90 percent of public schools have no science laboratory, and more than half of all pupils either have no text books or have to share them. Over a quarter of public schools do not even having running water.More affluent South Africans (read: White South Africans, along with a small but growing contingent from the black middle class) can afford to send their children to so-called former “Model C” schools, publicly funded schools that were previously allowed only for white students. These schools charge extra school fees to supplement teachers’ salaries and buy extra resources. Not surprisingly, these former white-only schools have far superior facilities and quality of education.School outcomes tell the story of South Africa’s educational inequalities. In 2009 just over half of black students passed the high school final exam, compared with 99 percent of whites. Of the South African population over 20 years old, 65 percent of those who are white and only 14 percent of those who are black have a high school degree or higher. The disparities remain at the university level. Although black Africans account for 80 percent of the whole South African population, they make up less than half of all university students. Less than one in 20 black South Africans ends up with a degree, compared with almost half of all whites.Poor and orphaned children, such as those at St. Vincent Children’s Home, are particularly vulnerable to the discrepancies evident in South African education. It is impossible for these children to access the quality of education available to more advantaged students. Despite high aspirations and exceptional potential, they simply cannot afford to attend schools outside of those in the crowded black townships or poor rural areas where they reside. Without a quality education, they are unable to escape their lives of poverty, allowing these inequalities to continue generation after generation. The need for outside assistance, such as that offered by the Khanyisela Scholarship, is critical. So what will the next South African school year bring besides learning, enlightenment, and growth? Equality and justice, thanks to you and your support of the Khanyisela Scholarship.

Emancipation Through a Grant for Special Education

There is a need to provide special care and attention to students who have some kind of impairment or special needs to ensure their continuous intellectual growth and learning development.Around the world, there has been a steady increase of students with disabilities in many schools, in comparison to the overall population of regular students. A recent statistics from revealed that there are currently 2.7 million students diagnosed with a specific learning disability. Their disabilities can happen to anyone and can come in various forms. Their issues tend to go worse if undetected and untreated, affecting their normal, day-to-day lives.BackgroundWe call “special education” as any type of education designed to instruct and support students with identified disabilities. This is to enable students with disabilities to develop their fullest potentials by providing public education as mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA.Teaching for Special Education is a more challenging job than regular education. Using a uniquely designed instructional program, teachers and educators are working to share the responsibility of ensuring students with disabilities get equal opportunities to learn in school.A grant for special education addresses the students’ linguistic, cognitive, social, emotional, and communicative issues, as well as physical and functional skills. It is exclusively offered to students diagnosed with disabilities.There are needs for special education to be addressed, though. There are not enough facilities and equipment to carry out programs and services. For this reason, people are looking for funding opportunities that address educational needs of students facing certain disabilities.Where to look forFunding assistance for this sector will benefit people with physical and mental disabilities. Under federal and state governments, a grant for special education can be obtained, some give free education while others offer early intervention services to identify their disabilities.They can go to state educational agencies, local educational agencies, higher education institutions, public agencies, local organizations that provide educational services, as well as private non-profit organizations to avail and benefit from their offered services.There are programs that help acquire assistive technology for the use of the disabled individuals to maximize their abilities or to undertake rehabilitative programs. Many, if not all, of those who have taken special education has proven to have improved their social, behavioral, emotional, social, and functional competencies.Such programs can potentially help individuals with disabilities to function more independently than before, which make them become more empowered and productive.Eligibility categoriesSpecific disabilities that are usually recognized are physical impairments such as deafness, blindness, deafness/blindness, traumatic brain injury, orthopedic impairment, autism spectrum disorder, and other health problems.On the other hand, commonly known communication impairments affect people’s fluency, voice, articulation, and language/phonology. Other impairments also include developmental delays as well as learning disabilities.All students seeking a grant for special education will be assessed if they are eligible. In the final analysis, people like them can actually live a normal and independent life with minimal or no support from others.