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Friday, 06 March 2015 10:33

South Africa's Educational Foundations

Source: FastFACTS – February 2015 – Issue 282

Institute of Race Relations

South Africa Education Profile

The good news is that the proportion of South Africans aged 20 and above with no schooling declined from 11.6% in 2002 to 5.5% in 2013.

The proportion of those with matric increased from 29.8% to 38.8%. (read more)


Perhaps the most positive indicator is that the proportion with post-school education almost doubled from 3.7% to 6.9%.

However, such progress must be weighed against significant dropout rates. The South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR) was the first to point out some six or seven years ago that only half of children who enrol in grade 1 will ever have the experience of sitting in a matric class. Of those fortunate enough to make it to matric, only half will write mathematics as a subject. Also, only one in four matric pupils will pass maths with 50% or higher.

Higher Education

The same dropout pattern then applies to students enrolled in higher education.

The proportion of people aged between 20 and 24 enrolled in higher education has increased from 15.4% in 2002 to 19.2% in 2012.

The head-count enrolment in universities has almost doubled since 1995. The proportion of African students also increased from 50.2% in 1995 to 69.5% in 2012, rubbishing even claims by the minister of higher education and training that there has been little progress in higher education transformation. However, data we publish in this edition shows that 51% of students who enrol for 3- and 4-year degrees never graduate.

Put plainly, if ten children enrol in grade 1 in any given year, one can expect five of them to reach matric, three to pass, and at most, only one to pass maths with 50%. There is no better way to explain the damage that the current school system causes to the life prospects of South Africa’s children and the reason why education policy reform that will allow parents to take control of schools via vouchers (see the September 2014 edition of our @Liberty report) is so important. — Frans Cronje

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