QUALITY EDUCATION IN SOUTH AFRICA: THE IMPROVED AND THE IMPROVING

At the time of transition to democracy, fundamental reforms to the administration, governance and funding of education were immediately necessary. A unified national department of education was established while considerable responsibility was vested at the provincial level. Curriculum reform, although ultimately not uncontroversial, represented a strong break from previous arrangements and sought to advance critical thinking and problem-solving. Public spending on education has gone from being highly unequal on the basis of race under apartheid to being well targeted towards poor children. Despite these mainly positive trends, a far more resilient legacy from the past has been the low quality of education within the historically disadvantaged parts of the school system. This seriously constrains the ability of the education system to provide a pathway out of poverty for poor children.

A cross-country comparison of educational attainment reveals a peculiar pattern specific to South Africa. The rate of attainment of levels of education up until about 11 years is high in South Africa relative to other middle-income countries. Beyond 12 years of education, however, South Africa‟s attainment rate is amongst the lowest of these countries. As far as access to education is concerned, it would, therefore, appear that South Africa is doing well throughout most of the primary and secondary phases and poorly thereafter. However, it is important to understand that high rates of grade progression despite a generally low quality of schooling in the primary and early secondary phases leads to substantial drop-out prior to the standardised matric examination, failure to pass matric and failure to achieve a university endorsement all reasons for discontinuing education. A closer analysis of access to education in South Africa thus points to a deeper problem of quality.

Quality education in South Africa

ISSUES IN DELIVERING QUALITY EDUCATION

Notwithstanding some of her problems in delivering quality education, over the years the South African government had tried in her capacity to solve some of these issues in quality education in it country, as education in South Africa has been governed by some key policies and legislation that has been guiding it activities for promoting quality education, such as the fundamental policy framework of the Ministry of Basic Education is stated in the Ministry’s first White Paper on Education and Training in a Democratic South Africa; which focuses on training, Moreso, the Adult Basic Education and Training also provided for the establishment, governance and funding of public adult learning centres; provides for the registration of private adult learning centres; and provides for quality assurance and quality promotion in ABET. Some others include the Education White Paper 6 on Inclusive Education describes the DBE’s intention to implement inclusive education at all levels in the system by 2020. The system will facilitate the inclusion of vulnerable learners and reduce the barriers to learning through targeted support structures and mechanisms that will improve the retention of learners in the education system, particularly learners who are prone to dropping out. The SASA  of 1996 was amended by the Education Laws Amendment Act, which authorises the declaration of schools in poverty-stricken areas as “no-fee schools”, and by the Education Laws Amendment, which provides for the functions and responsibilities of school principals.

AREAS THAT NEED IMPROVEMENTS

However, as South Africa has done some of its consequential deeds in improving quality of education, it’s thus important that she improves on some other deeds such as developing capacity within the teaching force in order to achieve educational progress. South Africa needs an institutional structure (encompassing teacher pay, bursary programmes and other interventions targeting existing teachers) that promotes good teaching and that attracts and retains the best teachers. Moreso is the school management for Instructional leadership, effective schools require well-selected individuals as principals together with management teams that understand and fulfil their roles as leaders of the curriculum, ensuring that an organised environment conducive to learning is present.

The Government can also do the strengthening relationships of accountability and support amongst stakeholders throughout the school system. What is envisaged is an institutional structure that is designed to avoid a breakdown in the implementation of a policy due to a lack of capacity at any particular link in the chain, but that also enables capacity to be built up at levels of authority that are deemed to have an important role in the long run. Furthermore, an effective institutional structure will require a better alignment of the interests and incentives of stakeholders around the common goal of educational improvement. By doing all of the above the quality education rendered by the South African government to its people will be nothing but second to none among its peers

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