IS EDUCATION REALLY FREE?

South Africa has suffered some of the severest of discrimination in the world. It also impacted the education system, where there was a difference in how Africans where taught and how white kids were also taught. But the bravery of the young black pupils of 1976 is commended and remains celebrated up until this day. 41 years after 1976, the quality of education in South Africa is still not equal.

June 16, 1976 marks a very historic day in South Africa, the youth took to the streets of Soweto to march against the poor level of education. The language of instruction in 1976 was either Afrikaans or English. Most township schools used English as a language of teaching and learning, but the then government thought that needed to change, all township schools were then instructed to use Afrikaans.

There were other challenges that were faced by the students this includes shortage of teachers, and this reduced the quality of education as few teachers had a lot of work and could not give individual attention to pupils when needed due to the overcrowding.  The lack of adequate study resources was another obstacle, this led to many school dropouts among the black school children.

Education to a black child then was not compulsory. This had a huge impact on the economic standings of black families even up to this day, as many of the parents now don’t have quality jobs. Without money in this new South Africa getting quality education for your child still remains hard. Many schools in townships are now free and education is compulsory for every child that is in the country as stated in the Bill of rights that “that every child has a right to free quality education”.

Generally it is a known factor that the quality in rural schools, township schools and “multi-racial” schools differs in all sorts of ways. As a result most parents who are able to afford send their children to multiracial schools with hope for better education. For parents in townships who cannot afford better education this means they just have to settle for what’s offered. Statistics also prove that it is highly likely for a child in multiracial school to finish school that the one in the township.

According to Nic Spaull an education researcher looking at the 2014 education statistics, he says less than half of the pupils that started grade 1 in the same year get to matric, only 48% of the 100.  Of the 48 percent only 14 percent qualify for university entrance.

Some of the challenge includes the shortage of teachers, over populated classrooms, more like challenges in 1976. I for one at some point went into a class of 60 children because of shortage of classes and teachers. The class was hard to manage for our teacher, which hindered for adequate assessment. Lack of proper security in our schools allows for free flow of drugs and violent weapons, which make it an uncomfortable environment for children to grow, develop and learn.

South African education system still needs a lot of attention for it to even match the standards of the world. Looking at the recent #feesmustfall student movement all I can say is “Aluta continua”. #ladi_jaja?

Images Courtesy of Google.

By: ITUMELENG NKOSI

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