News / Africa

South Africa's Education System Crumbling

TEXT SIZE - +

South Africa's Public education system is in serious decline. Reports of dismal graduation rates, bad teachers and crumbling buildings are commonplace. In Eastern Cape Province, one of the poorest regions in the country, the public system there is in chaos.

You cannot tell from the faces of the school children, but their futures are in jeopardy. The public schools in the Eastern Cape are falling apart. The windows and doors at this school are cracked and broken. Another school has almost no books.

Xolile, who goes by one name, runs an organization known as Save Our Schools in Grahamstown, southeastern South Africa. 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," he said.

The department he refers to is the Provincial Department of Education. It is in charge of everything from infrastructure to teachers to books and supplies.

Xolile says one school for five years has been asking for help to fix the boy's bathroom. There is no water in the sinks and toilets. The roof has large holes in it.

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

But it is not a question of money. The government devotes 19 percent of its national budget to education.

"They have the money, sir. They have the money," added Papy.

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

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

In one case, the government did take down an old mud school. Cameron McConnachie, an attorney for the Legal Resources Center, explains what happened next.

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

The community complained, but three years later nothing has been done.

So they hired McConnachie to sue the Board.

"It almost seems like a disregard for the integrity and dignity of people and the people they are supposed to be serving," added McConnachie.

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. Nyaluza High School for more than a year has been asking the Board of Education 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. 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," said Nkwinti.

There is also a shortage of teaching materials. Students are often 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 Lamani.

Experts say it is not a surprise that graduation rates in the Eastern Cape are low. The average number of students who graduate from high school is 50 percent. Some schools graduate as few as 9 percent of their students.

Derek Lydt, who runs the Public Service Accountability Monitor that monitors the educational system here, 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 Lydt.

Students like Dumisani Papy, who is to graduate this December, know the outlook is grim.

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

Officials in public speeches have acknowledged they are fully aware of this situation. But a spokesman for the Provincial Department of Education told VOA he could not find anyone to comment on the situation.

You May Like

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts 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