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

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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Tour Will Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

US secretary of state to visit 5 countries in the Middle East, South Asia in bid to strengthen economic and security ties, ease concerns over deal with Tehran 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs