News / Africa

South Africa's Education System Crumbling

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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs