by Caleb Schoon
The ability to get an education, in many developed countries, is taken for granted. In the United States, for example, children get up and go to school daily without thinking twice about it; however, there are many countries worldwide that continue to struggle with their educational systems despite many attempts to develop and improve them. Ranking 75th out of the 76 countries studied, according to the OECD Club, South Africa clearly shows the struggle to improve education (South Africa… worst education systems, 2017).1
For many years, South Africa has continued to demonstrate difficulties in education. One direct result of this is the number of students who dropout of school. According to Holborn (2013)2, 56% of students drop out before getting the first level high school senior certificate . Students blame the poor teaching quality from every level of schooling. Is this even possible? Could every teacher in the school system lack the ability to supply quality education?
The South African government has spent as much as “20 percent of its budget on education, or 6.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) (considerably more than many other emerging market economies) and yet preforms dismally in international comparisons” (Holborn, 2013)2. With all of this government funding, it is not likely that the problem lies in the country’s financial support of education. If the problem with education in South Africa is not financial, the possibility of the problem being centered on teaching seems more likely. In the words of Gugulethu Xhala, a former student from a village in South Africa’s Eastern Cape called Matatiele, “Teachers sometimes just talk about whatever, nothing to do with education. They are not being monitored to make sure they are doing a good job.”2 A lack of teacher oversight is present throughout South Africa.
There is no criteria for teachers to follow which leads them to teach, or not teach, whatever they see fit. Researchers found that, “Course content differed dramatically, with three of the universities failing to provide subject knowledge of English even though teachers with weak English proficiency will eventually use the language as a medium of instruction” (City Press, 2014)3. Because of the low entrance requirements that teachers have, they may not even be qualified to teach, yet still get teaching positions. The regulations on selected teachers needs to vastly improve, and there needs to be a criteria that is set for all schools so that they may grow in student education.
How Will Basic Education Help African Nations Grow?
Why does this all matter? Why is basic education such an important factor for the growth of South Africa? By giving children the necessary basic education, they will have the tools needed to continue on to either attend a university or get a good, well paying, job. The issue with so many of South Africa’s student population is that they drop out of school before receiving their basic senior certificate. Without this basic certificate, job opportunities decrease, especially those that pay well enough to support an individual and/or a family. A well educated society is necessary for a country to grow. By increasing the level of education, the safety of South Africa — because of financial security — will also increase.
What Can We Learn From This?
The lack of quality teaching that is seen throughout South Africa demonstrates what could happen when there is no common core in a country. Here in the United States, the issue of having a Common Core is disputed. Some people say that there should be a common curriculum throughout the entire country for students, and some disagree. In South Africa, we see what happens when there is no common curriculum or standards. Lacking some common requirements in education causes students to suffer and gives an unfair advantage to those with teachers who care and are qualified. An educated country is essential for financial stability . Through business, communication, politics, and all form of interactions, if all citizens receive the same education requirements, stability and success are more likely.
Having an educated population would allow an increase in equality and prosperity. By providing good and equal education for all, not only would South Africa’s workforce grow, but also the safety of the country would increase — including the safety of the countries that surround it. To conclude, “Basic education should be seen as a primary driver of transformation in South Africa” (DeVos, 2015)4.