Things you did not know about South Africas Education

Now more than ever the current state of education in South Africa is being brought to the forefront. The Department of Basic Education has stated that the schooling is finally 'changing for the better', however, according to statistics would suggest otherwise.

Many learners are still lacking basic skills and knowledge compared to their peers around the world. It is also no secret that the education standards in South Africa are in general very poor. It has to be said that this does depend on the provinces as well as the different school districts and even the various schools in that district.

For example 'private schools working on a different curriculum than the state's highly controversely discussed CAPS-curriculum, generally have better retention rates and higher education standards - and they provide a different set of final exams in the final years of schooling such as IEB or Cambridge exams. Students in these schools often do better than students in most public school. However, there are excellent public schools, often so-called former Model C-Schools, which either are mainly located in the more affluent suburbs of the cities and which are supported by various (mainly private) initiatives.'*

With the above in mind the following facts would come as no surprise to you;

  • In South Africa, there are 14.2 Million learners in 30,000 schools. 26,000 of these are public schools, while 15,000 of these state schools are primary schools. There are only 450 special schools for learners with special needs.

  • The average ratio of learners to teachers is 29:1 in public schools and 18:1 in private schools. 

  • There are around 2000 private or independent schools in South Africa. These schools account for 8% of schools. Over 3% of all pupils attend these independent/private schools. Most of the private schools are located in Gauteng and the Western Cape.

  • The average results for Annual National Assessments (public schools, latest data from 2013) in Grade 4 were: Home Language 49%, Mathematics 37%. In Grade 6 more than 11% did not reach sufficient achievement in their Home Language, levels meaning achieving less than 40% in their first language and over 36% failed in Mathematics. In Grade 9 tests, 37% of the learners achieved better than 50%, in Mathematics only 3.4% of all learners achieved marks higher than 50%!

  • The retention rate for the first nine years of schooling, which are compulsary, is at around 95%, however the high drop out rate after the nine years of compulsory schooling is worrying. From high school students, who started schooling in 2003 and could have written their final Grade 12 exams in 2015, only about 45% finished high school. The retention rate is stated to be as low as 55% of the total intake in 2003. 

  • In 2019, the Matric pass, which is the highest school leaver exam the South African school system at Grade 12, was achieved by 81.3% according to South Africa Market Insight statistics. A matric pass in South Africa is achieved when these minimum requirements are met: Six of seven subjects have been passed, 40% mark in 3 subjects including one language, and 30% mark in 4 other subjects.

  • Only 6% of all adults aged between 25 and 34 years have a tertiary education in South Africa. The tertiary attainment is the lowest across all OECD and partner countries! The OECD average stands at 38%. The graduation rate of students at public universities is very low. Among undergraduate students the graduation rate stands at a low 15%, at 20% for Master students and 12% for doctoral students in 2013. 

  • One fact that can be shouted about is the fact that the gender gap is small in South Africa. In fact, in the 2019 OECD report, more women achieve an upper secondary  or post-secondary education than men.

Now more than ever we need to bound together to help the learners of South Africa. We need them to move South Africa forward.


South African Government Website


South African Market Insight

The Citizen

#Education #SouthAfrica #EducationForAll

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