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Fri Oct 31 21:22:28 SAST 2014

Education system a 'national disgrace'

GRAEME HOSKEN | 01 June, 2012 06:36
WHERE ARE THE THREE Rs?: Lack of proper education and an underdeveloped transport system are two more headaches that South Africa has to address, says a letter writer.
Image by: Picture: Moeketsi Moticoe

Collapsing infrastructure, and non-existent laboratories and libraries, have rendered South Africa's education system a national disgrace.

With South Africa's 12-year-olds ranked among the worst in Africa in terms of literacy and maths, experts believe a grave disservice is being done to the country's future generations.

A Unicef report, A Review of Equity and Child Rights, reveals that, of South Africa's 19million children, 662000 attend neither primary nor high school, and 15% of high school-age children attend primary school, with repetition rates highest in Grade 10 and Grade 11.

Matric candidates last year dropped to 496090 from 537543 in 2010, with only 70.2% passing.

Though only 104033 matrics passed mathematics and 96441 physical science, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga recently said the department was pleased with the improved performance, especially in science.

"We, however, remain concerned about the number of passes in maths."

Motshekga's comments were made when a school infrastructure report last year revealed the appalling conditions at the country's 24793 state schools.

The document highlights Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo as the worst provinces in terms of provision of computer centres, laboratories, libraries and water-supply systems.

An analysis of the 2011 National Senior Certificate examinations, especially the maths and science papers, paints a grim picture.

The document shows that teachers are not covering the entire syllabus, are not teaching in English when exams are written in English, and are not studying further in the subjects they teach.

The report said that schools are producing matriculants who do not understand the basics.

Educationist professor Graeme Bloch said the education system was a "national disgrace".

"What education system? Where is the plan? The government can have a plan for collecting tolls, but where is the plan for addressing the crisis? It is ludicrous."

"June 16, where we remember what our young people fought for, is approaching but we are not paying attention to our young people."

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