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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid