Marlene de Franca


South African Schools have gone through a process of change during the last few years (as one could put it).  The coming together after a difficult era.


The Bantu Education of 1953 was aimed at providing Africans with a minimum educational skills, one day to be engaged in sem-skilled labour positions.  It was controlled by the central government.  And the minister of Native Affairs would ensure training and control of the system.


White education was uniform in the four provinces of the Aold@ South Africa.  The education policy was Christian and broad national in character.  The mother tongue was either English or Afrikaans depending on the school attended.  The abilities and interests of pupils were taken into account.   When one examined the National Party it became clear that education was separate and unequal.


Thus for this reason, on the 16 June 1976 the students of Soweto rose.  It became clear that the white South African government was spending 15 times more on white than on black pupils.  There was a shortage of classrooms and teachers were resulted in overcrowding and a high teacher - pupil ratio.  Poorly qualified teachers influenced the standard of education that resulted in a high failure rate.  Buildings and equipment were of inferior quality and learning became difficult under these conditions.  In these difficult conditions came the introduction of Afrikaans.  The minister of education decided to force black pupils to learn half of their subjects on Afrikaans.  There was wide spread opposition.


Students marched through the streets of Soweto.  At this demonstration police opened fire with automatic rifles on pupils and the police reacted in an attempt to break the demonstrations.  Sadly school property and lives were lost.  Afrikaans was thus not the cause, but a contributor to these events.


Government spending was increased substantially on black education in the late 1980's, but white education was still about four times higher.


The teacher to student ratio for blacks is 1:90 in rural areas and 1:60 in urban areas.  By comparison, the teacher to student ratio averages 1:30 or even lower for whites.  As a result of these conditions only 41% of all black students passed the secondary school final exams in 1991 which is a requirement for university entrance.   The same year 96% of all white students 95% of all Indian students and 83% of all coloured students passed the exam.  Also the literacy rate is less than 50%, while the white literacy rate is 100%.


Each year in the late 1980's South Africa=s primary and secondary schools enrolled about 5,370,300 blacks; 1,032,100 whites; 847,900 coloureds and 246,700 Asians.


The University=s were also split during the apartheid era by colour and language   Cape Town, Natal, Rhodes and Wits were for English speaking students.  The universities of the Orange Free State; Pretoria and Stellenbosch were for Afrikaans students.  Port Elizabeth was the only University that was bilingual.  The university=s of Fort Hare, Eastern Cape, Zululand and the University of the North were set aside for Black students.  Durban Westville was set aside for Indians.


The province=s administered all primary and secondary education with exclusion of private schools.  In all province=s schools for whites are generally single medium either English or Afrikaans.  Attendance is compulsory from the age of 7 to 16 and was free up to the late 1980's.  For coloured sand Indians attendance was not compulsory v\but free up to certain secondary standards, varying with the province.


In 1991 the schools amalgamated and the former Awhite@ schools accepted pupils of all races and every walk of life.


The governance of the school is the responsibility of the governing body which stands in a [position of trust towards parents, educator=s and learner=s at the school.  The professional management and administration of the school is the responsibility of the principal, and is undertaken by the principal, educators and other members of the staff under the authority of the head of the Department.


A typical school day in South Africa will mean that you wear a uniform and abide by the rules set forward in the code of conduct.  School classes will start at about 7.30 a.m. and end at 14.30.  During that time pupils will be learning all there is to offer and there are two breaks.   Sport is not included during that time and is an extra mural activity.  With South Africa=s great climate we are able to play all types of sport in fine weather.


Secondary education begins t the age of about 13/14 years old.  The first year is known as Grade 8 and pupils go through two weeks of initiation which helps them realise that they are now Alittle fish in big ponds@.  For the two years following they take approximately ten subject=s known as exploratory subjects, including English and Afrikaans.


In grade 9 comes the choice students take and they choose a minimum of 6 subjects.  The choice of subjects is very important because it determines your potential entry into a University or Technikon for further training.  Subject choices also determine where you will live, be happy and successful in your work.


Matriculation exemption is required for admission into a University.  A senior certificate without exemption is adequate for admission to a Technikon.


There have been many complaints about the new school system and the cost of education,  the price tag attached may seem high now, but it is the only way to a brighter future.




Jaige Govender


Systems of education the world over have developed over generations. The  systems that have been adopted over time have been influenced not only by  theories and principles propounded by educationists worldwide, but also  have been shaped by social, political and economic factors. 

Ladies and gentlemen, greetings felicitations to you. At the outset, I  must convey to the Rotarians of the host country, in general, and to the  Rotarians of the host district in particular, my sincere gratitude for hosting me. I appreciate your gesture greatly.


I feel privileged to address you on what I call a crucial subject, namely,  ' THE SOUTH AFRICAN SCHOOL SYSTEM '.


For one to appreciate the dynamics of the S. A. School System, it is  essential for one to understand the background to the development of South  Africa's educational system ‑‑ where it has been and where it is headed to  currently.


The majority of South Africans are a product of the apartheid era,  apartheid being the monster which the former Nationalist Party Govt.  cultivated, nurtured and enthusiastically unleashed on the masses. The  attitude of the then Govt. towards black education, in particular, is  evident in the following 3 quotations : 

The first quotation is by Hendrick Verwoerd, ( in 1953 ), who was Minister  of Native Affairs at the time Bantu Education was introduced.     " When I have control over native education, I will reform it so  that natives will be taught from childhood that equality with  Europeans is not for them. "

 J. N. le Roux, a National Party politician, in 1945, uttered the following  words :

" We should not give the Natives any academic education. If we do,  who is going to do the manual labour in the     community ?"

The final quotation also by Verwoerd reads : " There is no place for the Bantu in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour. "


Educational problems such as unequal access to school, unequal educational  opportunities, inadequate funding, inadequate facillities, shortage of  educational material and inadequately qualified teaching staff existed.  These problems contributed to the crisis in S. A. and 1976 marked the  turning point in S. A's history.  It was a blood‑shed year in the history of Black South African children.


 Their rejection of inferior education, coupled with their resistence to  being taught through the medium of Afrikaans, resulted directly in the Soweto uprising, which saw the loss of many young lives.


Despite this seemingly water‑shed incident, nothing of major significance  emerged.

In 1981, free and compulsory education was introduced in 202 Black schools  in 38 townships, mainly in the Transvaal.  Whites, on the other hand, had been enjoying compulsory education from  ages 7 to 16 years. Schooling was largely free with smaller classes,  better facilities and better qualified teachers. 

In 1983, the Tricameral Parliament was born. At this point, S. A's  education was controlled by 15 education departments, including the  homelands.

Clearly, the quality of education offered by different departments  differed vastly, with the blacks receiving the most inferior education. 

1994 heralded a new democratic order in S. A. to the formerly disenfranchised, voiceless majority, the election of April 1994 brought  renewed hope of a new era, with new hopes for a better life with equal opportunities.


The system of education which S. A. had practised before 1994 was based on Christian National principles, which had its hidden curriculum and focussed  on content and mastery of facts.   Although many laws were revised, perceptions still had to be altered. Many  of the old, commonly held beliefs and attitudes, which had been entrenched  over several decades, had to be changed. 


Education was viewed as the key to social, economic and political change.  It was felt that a new system of education was necessary in S. A., a  system which would liberate and decolonize S. African children's minds.  There was a need for a model which would promote critical and creative  thinking and problem solving abilities, a system which would encourage

 learners to be innovative, a system which would produce productive,  skilled and informed citizens equipped with life skills. 


Of the many changes effected in 1994, was the introduction of a new  education system.

Curriculum 2005, the brain child of Education Minister Prof. Sibusiso  Bhengu, had been regarded as a uniting vision for transforming apartheid  education. The vehicle to give effect to the attainment of this goal was Outcomes Based Education ( O. B. E. ) .


OBE focussed on the learner's acquisition of skills, knowledge, attitudes  and values. This system had been introduced in grade 1 in 1998, in grade 2  in 1999, and in grades 3 and 7 this year (2000) . 


Within this relatively short period of time, there have been various  criticisms levelled against Curriculum 2005. These criticisms appear to have prompted the new Minister of Education, Prof. Kader Asmal, to appoint a Review Committee to look into the new system.


The Interim Report of the Committee contains numerous recommendations,  many of which, it appears, would be acted upon.  However, the Minister is firm on the point that OBE would not be scrapped,  although it has failed in other countries.


How positive an impact the recommendations of the Review Committee would  have on OBE's implementation in S. A. remains to be seen.   I firmly believe that it would take a long, long time to address the  inequities of the many past decades. Perhaps with International funding  aimed at upgrading facilities, providing more teachers to reduce the large learner‑teacher ratios, providing in‑service training to upgrade teacher  competency, there would be light at the end of the education tunnel.

Future generations would be able to judge.


Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope that I have enlightened you on S. A.'s  education system and I thank you for your attentiveness and patience.  







Robyn Shirley


Like many aspects of South African History apartheid (which is the Afrikaans word for separateness) has had its effect on the school systems in South Africa.  As a result the different race groups were kept apart from one another and received school education on a level that the state felt was appropriate for them.  This brought about unfair levels of education amongst the different race groups.  White South Africans were at the most advantaged followed by Indians, Coloured and lastly African students.  More funds were channeled into the white schools and very little was given to other race groups, resulting in a lower standard of education and facilities being very poor and overcrowded at other disadvantaged groups. It was believed and I quote  AThe native must not be subject to a school system which draws him away from his own community, and misleads him by showing him the green pastures of European society in which he is not allowed to graze@(Rose and Tunmer 1975). 


In an attempt to rectify this quality of education amongst the different race groups the Government introduced different schooling systems namely Model-C, Model-B and later on the Model-D system.


The Government felt this would allow certain Government owned schools to become more self  Agoverning@. Which would as a result make more funds available to previously disadvantaged schools. 


In a Model-B School there is equal amount of state funding as a Model-C system but in a Model-B system this state funding is used partly for staff salaries and partly for operations and administration.  All staff is appointed by the Education Department. The building maintenance is the responsibility of the State and the Minister of Education determines the pupil=s admission policy and school fees are not compulsory and not enforceable. 


In a Model-C School the funding is used entirely for staff salaries including administration.  All staff is selected and appointed by the governing body.  A governing body is a parent teacher association, which is elected by parents with representatives of teachers and learners also being members.  Additional staff members can be appointed but are paid for by the governing body.  The school determines the pupil admissions policy and school fees are legally enforceable but no child under the age of sixteen can be removed for non-payment of fees.


So basically a Model-B school is the responsibility of the Government and the school has very little extra funds granted to it. 


In Model-C schools besides government staff salaries the governing body control the actual running of the school and as long as school fees are paid, are able to maintain a high level of education as well as extra B mural activities.


Model B D schools are schools that contain black students but are staffed by teachers from ex white schools. These are run and maintained by the Government and aimed specifically at the previously disadvantaged pupils, very few of these schools were implemented.


Presently the continually changing south African school system basically consists of three stages namely

Pre-primary, Primary and High School education.


Pre-primary School starts for learners at the age of plus minus three years and is attended for 3 years.


Primary School starts for learners at about the age of seven and is attended for seven years. Learners start in grade one and progress until grade seven


High School starts at grade eight and finishes at Grade twelve, grade twelve being the final year of school and learners are tested on the two year syllabus of grade eleven and grade twelve combined.


The South African School system has a long way to go to reach quality education, as on paper it is shown that all pupils now have access to quality education, but due to language problems educational groundings as well as financial restrains, it is the unfortunate truth that most people do not have access to these facilities.