News / Africa

South Africa's Education System Crumbling

A classroom in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province
A classroom in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province
TEXT SIZE - +

South Africa's public education system shows signs of serious decline. Reports of dismal graduation rates, bad teachers and crumbling buildings are commonplace. Our correspondent reports from Grahamstown that in Eastern Cape Province, one of the poorest regions in the country, the public education system is in chaos.

You cannot tell from the faces of the school children, but their futures are in jeopardy. Many of their public schools in the Eastern Cape are literally falling apart.

Xolile, who goes by one name, runs an organization known as Save Our Schools in Grahamstown. He says everything in the schools is in urgent need of repair.

"Like the toilet system, the classrooms, the desks, the windows - so most things the department can easily fix," said Xolile.

The Provincial Department of Education is in charge of everything relating to public schools .  And based on public speeches, officials seem fully aware of the schools' condition. But an department spokesman told VOA he could not find anyone to comment on the situation.  

Xolile says administrators at  this school have asked for help to fix the boys' bathroom for the past five years. There is no water for the sinks and toilets. The roof has large holes in it. Students beg for help, says student leader Dumisani Papi.  

"We wrote letters to the department," said Dumisani Papi. "We did a lot of stuff as in cleaning the toilets, but no help has come."

These were the bathroom conditions at another school. And it does not seem to be a matter of money. The national government devotes 19 percent of its budget to schools.  

"They do have the money, sir," said Papi. "They do have the money."

This kind of situation is repeated across the province, where much of the school infrastructure is in disrepair.

These students climb through the classroom window because the door is broken.

The problem is even worse in rural areas. Here, most students still go to school in mud structures, even though the government promised to replace all of them years ago. Cameron McConnachie took these pictures.  

He is an attorney for the Legal Resources Center. He explains what happened at one school after the government did take down an old mud school.

"When the contractor arrived, he demolished what did exist," said Cameron McConnachie. "He built the trenches for a new school and then disappeared. They were left with nothing."

This is what is left.  Community leaders complained, but three years later nothing has been done. So they hired McConnachie to sue the education department.

"It almost seems like a disregard for the integrity and dignity of people," he said.

In the meantime, the students learn in temporary shacks of corrugated tin.

"Broken down doors are used as tables, bricks that are strewn around the construction site those are the seats," said McConnachie.

Most schools have a shortage of teachers as well. Nyaluza High School for more than a year has been asking the education department to replace four teachers who were moved to another school. The schools' principal is Mangaliso Nkwinti.

"I don't know how many times we have been to the department," said Mangaliso Nkwinti. "And how many times we have been so angry, talking to them, trying to show them the situation at the school, why we need so many teachers and to improve, which is the bottom line here."

Students at many schools are forced to share the few available books. George Lamani teaches at Nyaluza High School:

"My principal has just explained that we have been systematically knocking at their door, talking professionally with them and they are not listening," said George Lamani.

The average number of students who graduate from high school in Eastern Cape Province is 50 percent. Some schools graduate as few as nine percent of their students.

Derek Luyt runs the Public Service Accountability Monitor that monitors the educational system here. He says another major problem is the quality of the teachers.

"Those who teach the teachers are not well qualified and the teachers themselves are not qualified and all of that obviously leads to poor education in the classroom," said Derek Luyt.

These students will graduate in December. They know the outlook is grim.

"It's a very little chance that many of us can make it," said Dumisani Papi.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid