Human Rights In A Democratic South Africa Education Essay

Published:

In the South African Constitution, citizens are given many different rights. The right to education is specifically important because it builds and largely determines the future of the next generation. Since I am in a privileged position regarding education, attending a private school, I have decided to research the right to education of all South Africans. My aim is to find whether the right to education which are guaranteed in our constitution to both children and adults are realised in the daily lives of all South Africans. My research is focused on high school education (i.e. Grade 8 to Grade 12). This is the phase which forms the foundation for Matric results. Analysing the Grade 12 results across all sectors of our population along with other primary and secondary sources will give a good indication of whether the right to Education is realised in South Africa. I predict that the rights to education are not fulfilled across all races and income groups in South Africa.

Lady using a tablet
Lady using a tablet

Professional

Essay Writers

Lady Using Tablet

Get your grade
or your money back

using our Essay Writing Service!

Essay Writing Service

Review of Literature

The research done on existing information regarding the right to Education in South Africa has been studied and is discussed below. The following secondary sources include a combination of angles ranging from the Bill of Rights, the Popular Media (focusing on the recent Limpopo textbook crisis) and Education Statistics of the last few years. There are many different viewpoints regarding Education in South Africa, some highlighting the corruption and inefficiency, some focusing on the transitional phase we seem to be in, and others looking only at the successes. Education is perceived in such different ways because different audiences look at different aspects of the whole, i.e. the teachers, the pass rates or governmental management. Looking holistically at the entire situation will produce a clearer and more objective result.

Source 1: The Constitution of South Africa, 4 February 1997, Chapter 2 - Bill of rights, Section 29 - Education

When a careful study is made of the rights to education as stipulated by the South African Constitution, one finds that every child and adult has the right to basic education as well as further education.

The state is primarily responsible to provide the infra-structure in which its' citizens could be educated. This implies that the state should provide sufficient school buildings, enough capable teaching staff to ensure a healthy teacher-learner ratio, textbooks and other educational materials. The education system should be free from discrimination on the basis of race, gender and language. Education should be made available in all the official languages where at all practically possible. The education system should also make room for independent institutions which are registered with the state and provide standards comparable to that of public educational institutions.

Source 2: Articles by Greg Nicolson from the Daily Maverick

2.1 Limpopo's education crisis: The price of incompetence and corruption

It is vitally important to have an education system which can be trusted. This article deals with explaining the politics behind the Limpopo textbook crisis. During a tender process advertised by the Limpopo education department there were 23 possible tenders of which 22 were immediately disqualified on the basis of technicalities. From this there was later found that the one which was accepted, EduSolutions, had been pocketing money from the government throughout the process and has left the Limpopo schools without the necessary textbooks and learning materials.

2.2 SA's education crisis: Limpopo STILL without books

A recent discrepancy in the Limpopo education department has exposed the education system as corrupt and incompetent. However while the issue is being investigated and addressed a large amount of Limpopo students were left without textbooks and were unable to continue any learning. The seriousness of this situation lies not only in the fraud but the inadequacy of the manner in which students were left without any means to education until the middle of the school year. While the whole event has become a political issue there is still no answer to the problems which the students face in their battle for proper education.

Source 3: Is South Africa fulfilling "right to free education for all' right? April 10, 2011 · by Akanyang Merementsi · in Media, Society

This article discusses education in the world and in South Africa and compares the standard of education between South Africa and the world. Not only is focus put on the importance of education as a human right but it also makes the reader aware of the large high school dropout rates and the negative effects thereof. The article discusses A4 as a model of assessment which the education department needs to adopt in order to function effectively. A4 is Availability, Accessibility, Acceptability and Adaptability. These four traits are vital in the department of education in South Africa.

Lady using a tablet
Lady using a tablet

Comprehensive

Writing Services

Lady Using Tablet

Plagiarism-free
Always on Time

Marked to Standard

Order Now

Source 4: The South African Department of Education - Action plan 14 June 2003 and Strategic Plan 9 March 2011

In 2003 the South African education department confessed to a failing education system and set up a plan of action in order to rectify and improve the education system. It set guidelines in order to help in areas which through community debate and school statistics had been found wanting. However, it is now almost 10 years later and this Action Plan is still needed. Similarly a Strategic Plan has recently been drawn up for education in 2011 to 2014 (published on 9 March 2011). The need for both of these plans highlights the shortcomings in the South African education system; fortunately there is a plan to fix them. For this plan to be effectively deployed, the basic education system needs more than paperwork. What ultimately happens to the children in South African schools is that they are left without means to further education while administrative issues are being addressed. The plans are there, but they are simply not being carried through.

Source 5: Reinvent local education now by Jon Tullett, Editor: News analysis,

11 Jul 2012

This source uses several points ranging from the Limpopo textbook crisis to our educational world rankings to discuss the importance of a reinvented education system and the current lack of basic education in South Africa. Certain issues are addressed and possible solutions mentioned in order to move South Africa forward in education using its resources and technology. Recently South Africa was ranked out of 142 countries In the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness 2011-2012 report. South Africa is in position133 regarding the quality of the education system and in position138 for the quality of maths and science education. These are not good statistics and clearly show a fault in the education system. As we are behind countries such as Zimbabwe this quote from the article relates to many South Africans:

"When you think of some of the poverty-stricken, war-ravaged, desolate countries in the world, it is sobering to think they are all better than us."

Source 6: Education statistics 2010 Published by the Department of Basic Education

February 2012

6.1 Ratios, indicators, page 6

Statistics can be used to deduce several facts; in this case ratios are presented to show the effectiveness in numbers of the education department in South Africa. Specifically the ratios are the learner-educator ratio (LER), learner-school ratio (LSR) and educator-school ratio (ESR). The LER in 2010 was 29.3:1 and unfortunately increased to 32.2:1 in 2011. In 2010 the LSR was 474:1 which then also increased to a ratio of 484.5:1 in 2011. In 2011 the ESR had decreased to 16:1 from 2010's 16.2:1. These ratios (The LER, LSR and ESR) are that of the Public and Independent schools throughout South Africa.

6.2 National Senior Certificate (NSC) pass rates

When considering whether the right to education is fulfilled in South African high schools it is vitally important to look at the level of education provided from the beginning and throughout the course of Grade 8 to Grade 12. Nonetheless, the level of education can only really be clearly seen through studying the Grade 12 National Senior Certificate pass rates and related statistics. The overall national pass rate in 2010 in the NSC examination was 67.8%. Although throughout the country more females than males wrote the NSC examination, the pass rate for males was higher than that for females. There has been an increase from 62.5% (2008) to 70.2% (2011) in Grade 12 final results in the last 4 years which is a good statistic but considering the level of education it is debatable that pass rates are higher due to a lowering in education standards as will be discussed below.

Source 7: Rippling effect of the lowering of standards of basic education - 18 July 2012, Varsity SA

The main purpose of the South African education department should not be merely educating students but to equip learners with that which is necessary to not only pass Grade 12 but also to be educated enough for further studies. This is important because it is these students who will be responsible for carrying the country and taking over the South African economy thus students need further education and they need to be well enough equipped for further education. This article from Varsity SA raises concerns about the lowered NSC standards which have led to an increase in pass rates. It is currently required that a student only receive 30% (thus knowing only 30% of the syllabus) in order to pass the NSC. Universities have become very unhappy with the large gap in standard between Grade 12 and first year of University studies. This has a large impact on the country as a whole. According to Statistics South Africa there are 4.24 million unemployed people in South Africa. If the standard of basic education continues decreasing it will result in unemployment increasing and not decreasing as expected by government. Unless the education standards are raised the target set by government will not be achieved.

Lady using a tablet
Lady using a tablet

This Essay is

a Student's Work

Lady Using Tablet

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Examples of our work

Methodology

When referring to the topic of Basic Education as a human right in South Africa at high school level, it is clear that research should range across all provinces and schools. Results obtained from a few questionnaires would not clearly and honestly propose a result to the hypothesis of education as a Human Right. Therefore, other means of information, specifically secondary sources, needed to be collected and analysed.

The secondary sources collected provide a wide range of ideas and opinions about the education system as well as facts and statistics from a variety of sources.

The secondary research conducted was from newspaper articles and internet research. South African education has been the focus of many newspapers, magazines and of the community as a whole, especially with the Limpopo textbook crisis and statistics which were released this year. Gathering research thus became a daily job of listening to news reports, social debates and community discussions.

Most of the research ideas come from discussing the topic with people, be it teachers, students, parents or any other South African citizen. Education touches every single South African in one way or another thus it is vitally important to hear what South Africa has to say about education and how it impacts their lives.

Articles seen online and in newspapers were recorded and every time a new issue about education was raised the topic was recorded. Then internet research was done on the list of information and the articles found. More online research was done in order to gather other sources and specifically statistics from done surveys and from Statistics South Africa.

Both quantitive and qualitive data is used; quantitive data such as statistics and ratios and the qualitive data include reports, articles, opinions, interviews and other literature.

Considering the large 'gap' between high school education and university education it was important to have first hand research of the level of students entering university. A senior accounting lecturer of the University of Witwatersrand, Mrs. Belinda Breytenbach, was contacted and an interview set up. Here further insight into the shortcomings of the education system was revealed.

Interview questions:

Do you believe that the right to education in South Africa for high school students is being fulfilled?

Why or why not?

Is it true that there is a growing concern regarding the cognitive abilities of first year students who have completed the NSC?

Could you describe the academic level of the first year accounting students in general?

What would you say is the single biggest need among students academically?

How high are the university dropout rates and do you believe that they are increased due to the education students receive in high school?

Is there cause for concern about the lowered standards which increase the pass rates of learners writing the NSC?

With English being the medium of instruction how would you rate the proficiency of the average first year student?

What do you believe are the main areas of concern in the basic education system of South Africa?

Do you encounter difficulties in your field of work which is due to the lack of proper education for high school student?

Do you believe that education in South Africa is viewed more negatively due to stereotypes?

Are there enough opportunities for students who do not receive university acceptance?

Do you think that the large amounts of students who after receiving the NSC do not receive university acceptance directly increase the unemployment rate and affect the South African economy?

If so, why?

What would you suggest the South African Department of Education do to further the education system?

Processing of findings

The majority of research material is secondary sources. Therefore conclusions and results need to be taken from the literature, graphs and ratios used.

From this graph it is clear that by far the majority of learners in South Africa attend Public Schools. For this reason it is vitally important that the South African Education System is successfully fulfilling the basic right to Education as set out in the Bill of Rights. Below all the sources from the Literature Review are analyzed and interpreted in order to determine whether this right is fulfilled throughout the country.

Studying the Limpopo textbook crisis, it is quite clear that corruption and a lack of integrity caused learners to suffer great loss in terms of learning materials and eventually in terms of time wasted. There is still no clear plan of action for the successful delivery of learning materials for 2014. Ultimately both articles prove the point that government officials are more concerned about playing politics than about the actual education of learners, who in turn become the victims of dishonesty. The Education Department should have a careful look at their priorities and put the learners first.

When comparing South African Education to the rest of the World, South Africa has the fifth worst education system of all the countries reviewed. This puts us behind a country such as Zimbabwe, which in itself should raise grave concern. The current education system disappoints in terms of delivery of results as well as in terms of development. It is quite clear that the academic discussion of the problem has been done and the answers are on the table, however, the implementation of the Strategic Plan calls for responsible individuals to be monitored by the system. The SA Education Department has the tights ideas but has not succeeded in bringing them into action. This in itself might be a result of inferior teacher training procedures and highlights the need for proper education on a secondary and a tertiary level. Too much time is spent on the administration and discussion of the problem, and too little on the actual implementation and monitoring of the system.

When analyzing the current education situation it is important to interpret ratios and statistics. Between 2009 and 2010 the Learner - Educator ratio increased which means that teachers had bigger classes and more learners had less individual attention from the teacher. The Learner - School ratio also increased, highlighting the need for more school buildings. The Educator - School ratio decreased, showing that although learner numbers increased, the amount of teachers decreased. These ratios are an indication of the negative development of the entire system, adding unnecessary stress and workload to teachers.

The Grade 12 results of 2009 and 2010 are displayed below. At first glance the increase in pass rate looks positive. However, the actual number of students who performed better did not increase, but the requirement to pass decreased to a lower standard and therefore the pass rate increased.

In an interview with a senior accounting lecturer from the University of the Witwatersrand, Mrs. Belinda Breytenbach, the following information emerged:

High School education is not adequate and many learners are taught by unqualified teachers. Lecturers sit with the problem of students not having the necessary language or mathematical skills to understand the work content.

This makes teaching very difficult and emphasizes the need for better education on a higher standard. One of the biggest problems is a lack of English proficiency.

When looking at the university dropout rate and the level of comprehension of these students, it is certainly cause for concern. Dropout rates are high and pass rates are low among first year students. When looking at Mrs Breytenbach's answers to the questionnaire, the deduction is made that Education on a tertiary level is severely hampered by inferior teaching on a secondary level.

Interview Response:

Do you believe that the right to education in South Africa for high school students is being fulfilled?

No.

Why or why not?

Several factors contribute but among them is the inadequacy of education, the need for schools and qualified educators. The textbook crisis is another example.

Is it true that there is a growing concern regarding the cognitive abilities of first year students who have completed the NSC?

Yes, First year accounting pass rates are low. The mathematic and english skills of the students are below the required standard.

Could you describe the academic level of the first year accounting students in general?

It is definitely below the expected level at University. We find that most students are on about a Grade 10 and 11 standard and this makes teaching more difficult.

What would you say is the single biggest need among students academically?

English reading and writing skills. Students struggle with writing and have extreme difficulty with their comprehension skills.

How high are the university dropout rates and do you believe that they are increased due to the education students receive in high school?

Yes I do, the dropout rate is relatively high for university (+ 30 - 40%).

Is there cause for concern about the lowered standards which increase the pass rates of learners writing the NSC?

Yes, people are less equipped to pass at University.

With English being the medium of instruction how would you rate the proficiency of the average first year student?

English is poor. The majority of students are not first language English speakers.

What do you believe are the main areas of concern in the basic education system of South Africa?

The education and qualifications of the teachers themselves along with the fact that many learners are passing to the next grade/level without actually having the required knowledge.

Do you encounter difficulties in your field of work which is due to the lack of proper education for high school student?

Yes, they cannot grasp the accounting concepts due to a lack of English skills along with basic mathematical and accounting knowledge which although required is not actually present.

Do you believe that education in South Africa is viewed more negatively due to stereotypes?

Yes, but it is not only due to stereotypes. The lack of proper education is a problem I deal with on a daily basis at the University.

Are there enough opportunities for students who do not receive university acceptance?

Yes, the opportunities exist but students are not equipped well enough and simply do not always use the chances they are given.

Do you think that the large amounts of students who after receiving the NSC do not receive university acceptance directly increase the unemployment rate and affect the South African economy?

Yes

If so why?

Many students have passed grade 12 and have received the NSC but the level is too low and thus students can't get university acceptance and are not well enough prepared to be able to work as part of a growing economy.

What would you suggest the South African Department of Education do to further the education system?

Ensure that teachers are properly qualified. Try to focus on separating politics and education in all aspects. Provide more schools and opportunities. One way of doing this is by joining in on projects similar to one we run at the University of Witwatersrand, it is called the Wits Soweto schools project and it is where university lecturers go to help tutor school children in rural or underprivileged areas.

Conclusion

Having studied the education system in South Africa over a period of month and with the help of primary and secondary sources, a conclusion has been reached.

As predicted in the hypothesis the human right to basic education in South Africa is not fulfilled on a satisfactory level nationally. There are not enough school buildings, there are not enough qualified teachers, learning materials do not always reach the learners and ultimately the level of education is too low to prepare learners for tertiary studies.

There are many different reasons for the current problems within the Education System, and one of the biggest reasons is that unqualified teachers teach, which perpetuates the problem. This national problem needs to be addressed with a long term view, creating opportunities for staff development, improved teacher training and careful administration of resources and programs. The strategic plan should be actively enforced and the priority of the South African Education Department should be the learners.

The system needs to be constantly reviewed and adjusted in the light of international standards. It is imperative that weak learners should be supported and helped to achieve, rather than to lower standards in an effort to increase pass rates.

The biggest limitation of the above discussion is that there is no reference to children who are not even part of any schooling system and not accounted for in any statistics.

Several of the secondary sources could be biased as it is written from an individuals' perspective although facts and statistics were used.

Doing this research project has opened my eyes to the complexity of the South African situation with particular reference to the education system. It does not have a simple solution; neither does it have a single contributing factor. There are numerous problems interlinking causing even bigger problems and one would need great wisdom, huge resources and a lot of determination to even begin addressing these problems. Great leadership is needed in this regard.

Reference List

Newspaper articles:

Nicolson, Greg. 2012. Limpopo's education crisis: The price of incompetence and corruption. The Daily Maverick. 18 July 2012

Nicolson, Greg. 2012. SA's education crisis: Limpopo STILL without books. The Daily Maverick. 17 July 2012

Websites:

Merementsi, Akanyang. 10 April 2011. Is South Africa fulfilling "right to free education for all' right?. Media Society. http://akanyangafrica.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/is-south-africa-fulfilling-right-to-free-education-for-all-right/. 6 July 2012.

Nicolson, Greg.17 July 2012.SA's education crisis: Limpopo STILL without books. The Daily Maverick.http://dailymaverick.co.za/article/2012-07-17-sas-education-crisis-limpopo-still-without-books. 1 September 2012.

Nicolson, Greg. 18 July 2012. Limpopo's education crisis: The price of incompetence and corruption. The Daily Maverick. http://dailymaverick.co.za/article/2012-07-18-limpopos-education-crisis-the-price-of-incompetence-and-corruption. 1 September 2012

Right to education project© 2008. The Constitution of South Africa. Right to education project.http://www.right-to-education.org/country-node/522/country-constitutional. 22 June 2012

The South African Department of Education. 14 June 2003. Action plan. The South African Department of Education. http://www.education.gov.za/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket =IBMz%2FjGelkc%3D&tabid=390&mid=1124. 4 September 2012.

The South African Department of Education. 9 March 2011. Strategic Plan. The South African Department of Education.http://www.education.gov.za/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket= %2F%2BBILaBJ7ak%3D&tabid=80&mid=585. 4 September 2012.

The South African Department of Education. Feb 2012. Education statistics 2010. The South African Department of Education. http://www.education.gov.za/EMISSTATISTICS /StatisticalPublications/tabid/462/Default.aspx. 22 June 2012.

Tullett, Jon. 11 Jul 2012. Reinvent local education now. It web. http://www.itweb.co.za/index.php?option =com_content&view =article&id=56651. 13 August 2012.

18 July 2012.Rippling effect of the lowering of standards of basic education. Varsity SA. http://varsitysa.co.za/fun-stuff/articles/rippling-effect-of-the-lowering-of-standards-of-basic-education/.7 September 2012.

Interview:

Senior lecturer of Accounting from the University of the Witwatersrand

Belinda Breytenbach.

Tel:0832934350