Education in South Africa
The government has committed itself to free and quality education, for poor students, up to the first stage of qualification into higher education. Amongst other things for instance that my department is doing now, is reviewing the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, so that that scheme is better able to respond to that need such that no capable student, who happens to be poor, must not be prevented [from accessing higher education] because of a lack of state resources and funds – that is at the heart of what this administration is trying to do.
The Minister for Basic Education has plans to build upon what has already been happening – to try and build safer schools. The government is committed to ensuring that we build safer schools and will create a better learning environment, a joint effort between government and communities.
Blade Nzimande, Minister for Higher Education
Dr Emmanuel Bonginkosi Nzimande, well known as Blade, is the first Minister for Higher Education and Training in the Republic of South Africa, appointed in May 2009. He has also held the position of the General Secretary of the South African Communist Party (SACP), from July 1998 to the present. He was re- elected in July 2002 and 2007. He is also a member of the ANC National Executive Committee, a member of the ANC National Working Committee and the Chairperson of the Financial Sector Coalition Campaign (FSCC).
Born in Kwa-Dambuza, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa in 1958, Nzimande joined the SACP at the age of 30. Dr Nzimande obtained his PhD in Industrial Sociology from the University of Natal in 1991 and he is also a qualified Industrial Psychologist. From 1994 to 1999, Dr Nzimande was a Member of Parliament and Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Education in South Africa’s first democratic parliament. He was Director of the Education Policy Unit at the University of Natal from 1990 to 1994, and, prior to that, he lectured in Industrial Psychology at the Universities of Zululand and Natal. In the 1980’s he was a member of progressive education organisations, including NEUSA, UDUSA and NECC and served in many NGO’s supporting mass and labour struggles. In addition to serving on the Boards and committees of many organisations, Dr Nzimande has published numerous works related to the areas he researched, namely: Education, Civil Society and the State; Affirmative Action; and Education Policy Development; and Socialism.
Joined Commonwealth: 1931 (Statute of Westminster; left in 1961, rejoined in 1994)
Population: 50,110,000 (2009)
GDP p.c. growth: 1.2% p.a. 1990-2009
UN HDI 2010: world ranking 110
Net primary enrolment: 89.6% (2009)
Net secondary enrolment: 71.8% (2007)
Adult literacy: 88.7% (2007)
Public spending on education was 5.4% of GDP in 2009. There are nine years of compulsory education starting at age seven. Net enrolment ratios are 89.6% for primary (2009) and 71.8% for secondary with a gross enrolment ratio for all levels of education combined of 76.4% (2007). The pupil-teacher ratio for primary is 31:1 and for secondary 25:1 (2009). The school year starts in January.
In February 2011, the Council on Higher Education recognised 23 public universities, including two concentrating on distance education and six universities of technology. It recognised 87 private higher education institutions and a further 27 were provisionally registered. There are some 840,000 students in public higher education institutions, some 130,000 of whom are post-graduate students (2009). Literacy among people aged 15-24 is 98% (2009).
The Department of Education is running a mass adult literacy campaign during 2008-2012. The first part of the campaign is intended to reach 4.7 million people above the age of 15 who have not had any formal education and enable them to become literate and numerate in one of the eleven official languages. Achieving this goal will enable South Africa to reach its United Nations’ Education For All commitment to halving the country’s illiteracy rates by 2015. By the end of 2009, there were an additional one million newly literate people.
South Africa hosted the 16th Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers, in Cape Town in December 2006. The conference was attended by delegations from 36 member countries and had the theme ‘Access to Quality Education: for the Good of All’.