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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More