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SA Education system the 4th worst in the world according to Newsweek

Newsweek‘s (16 August 2010) list of the world’s best countries put South Africa at 82nd overall, and ranks our education system 97th out of 100, which is 4th from the bottom. South Africa’s education performance is even ranked below countries like Mozambique, Bangladesh and Iran, states less wealthy or less free.

Newsweek explained that the best performing school systems do the following things very well:

  • They have high-quality pre-school provision, which does more for a child’s chances in school than any other intervention.
  • The best schools have students who arrive early at school, leave later, attend more regularly and come on Saturdays when they need to.
  • Superior schools have teachers who thrive on the effort, investment and care put into their training, and who respond well to ongoing evaluation and performance bonuses.
  • Great schools help struggling students through individual attention and mentorship.

To read more go to Wilmot James’ article on Politicsweb by Clicking Here!

or go to Liesl Peyper’s Afrikaans article in the Beeld newspaper by Clicking Here!


Using cell phones in the classroom?

A SOUTH African education company has figured out a way to allow children to access electronic books (e-books) even when they do not have access to desktop computers.

 A University of SA survey of Gauteng high school pupils showing 75,4% access the internet via cellphones, suggests the ability to open a textbook using a device many pupils have, opens up great possibilities.

Star Schools, which provides extra tuition to 37 000 children nationally, and 22 000 by distance tuition, is to launch this technology nationally through its technology division, My Star, this month.

To read more go to the original article in Business Day on allAfrica.com by Clicking here!

More South African pupils to have access to free education

From 2011 more pupils in South African schools will have access to free education, the South African Department of Basic Education announced recently.

This has been welcomed by Naptosa, but it also warned, that the system would now have to focus on the quality of the education provided. This observation is crucial since the current roll-out of no-fee schools has drawn sharp criticism for its failure to properly resource such schools.

To read more go to Tebeogo Monama’s article in the Sowetan by Clicking Here!

New Curriculum for South African schools

South African Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga yesterday announced changes to the South African education system.

The new curriculum Schooling 2025 would replace the highly criticised outcomes based education (OBE) system introduced in 1998. However, OBE would not be completely scrapped but would be modified to improve the performance of school pupils.

The new Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement will replace the existing method, where assessment requirements were mapped onto the achievement of outcomes and assessment standards

To read Angie Motshekga’s full StatementClick Here!

To read more go to Sipho Masombuka and Tebogo Monama’s article in the Sowetan by Clicking Here!

To read more go to the SAPA article on News24 by Clicking Here!

The Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) documents can be accessed on the Dept of Basic Education’s website by Clicking Here!

School libraries a human right?

The Department of Basic Education was recently accused of having no co-ordinated plans or support for school libraries. This came out in a debate on school libraries held at the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA),  and attended by representatives of the education departments, universities, librarians and the organisation Equal Education.

Th issue of school libraries came to the fore when thousands of pupils countrywide protested peacefully for school libraries in March this year.

Equal Education started last year with a national campaign for school libraries because only 7 % of South Africa’s 28 000 schools have functional libaries.

One of the pupils at the Luhlaza Secondary School in Khayelitsha summmarized the feeling most pupils have, when she described school libraries as a basic “right”. Many problems were pointed out, for instance the overcrowding in public libraries, scarcity of books and resources to assist pupils with assignments, excessive travel costs to get to these libraries, and the understaffing of these libraries.

Dr Jennifer Joshua, involved with early childhood development in the Department of Basic Education acknowledged that libraries and information services at schools have huge challenges. According to her the National Treasury made R2 billion available for infrastructure development which includes libraries, laboratories and more classrooms. She also referred to “National Guidelines for Libraries” which will soon be distributed to provinces and districts. These “guidelines” will focus among other things on the obligation to expand services, the training of personnel, the protection of resources and alternative methods of service delivery, for example mobile and classroom libraries.

Education officials from Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal emphasized the problem of communication (they get no feedback or support on the issue of school libraries) from the National Department. Since 1997 there were 5 concept policies on school libraries, but nothing official.

Mr Alan Thomson of the National Teachers Union (Natu) stressed that school libraries will never get of the ground or function effectively if the onus rests on teachers to manage it. Various librarians have shown that to manage a library, is a full time vocation. He suggests that the Department must investigate that possibility to bring these posts back to schools.

Mr Graeme Bloch of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) said a national campaign for school libraries is necessary, and that the government will have to start implementing its plans for it.

The state of school libraries in South Africa is illustrated in the following table:



Schools with no library or facilities for a library

Schools with space for a library, but no books

Schools with functional libraries





North West












Free State




Northern Cape




Eastern Cape




KwaZulu Natal




Western Cape




This posting was translated from an Afrikaans article by Alet Rademeyer “Skoolbiblioteke is ‘n reg’ in the Printed Beeld Newspaper of 9 April 2009, p.15.

Action against religion in South African schools?

School principals and education organisations in South Africa has reacted heavily to the plan of an organisation “Sceptic South Africa” to start monitoring South African schools that are practicing religion in schools. “Sceptic South Africa” plans to prosecute those schools that allow Bible reading and prayer during classes.

The organisation is headed up by Prof George Claasen, extraordinary professor at University of Stellenbosch. Prof Claasen is acting on behalf of a group of parents that are unhappy about the “illegal” practice of religion in schools. The first schools that will be targeted are “Laerskool Stellenbosch” and “Laerskool Louw Geldenhuys”

According to Prof Rassie Malherbe(University of Johannesburg), an expert on the South African constitution, the constitution does say that religion cannot be forced on anyone, but at the same time it also says that the absence of religion cannot be enforced.

“Government policy leave room for religion in schools”, Mr Jaco Deacon, national operational head of the Federation of School Governing Bodies of South Africa commented. “According to the constitutional framework a school can still be a Christian or Muslim school. The constitution only stipulates that one cannot oblige all students to take part in religious activities. People with different opinions must also not be excluded. Schools should foster understanding and tolerance, rather than enforcing a viewpoint.” 

According to Malherbe any matter regarding religion in schools will be subject to the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom. Constitutional Judge Arthur Chaskalson already found in the 1990s that the state should allow room for people to freely practice their beliefs.

To read the original article in Afrikaans in the Rapport Newspaper by Clicking Here!

Education findings ‘devastating’

The findings by a team tasked to investigate the state of education in South Africa have been described by the opposition Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal as “nothing less than devastating”.

The team had found underlying dysfunctionality at rural and township schools, and teachers were spending less time in the classroom and more time on administration. The culture of teaching and learning had disappeared in most rural and township schools.

A culture of learning could only be restored if schools were given greater autonomy in hiring and firing staff, in disciplining pupils and in adapting the curriculum to local needs.

To read the report, click here