Policy and Structure of education in different countries

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Education is essential to survive in today's world. To continue in education is not just beneficial for survival, but plays a vital role in success and the search of goals. Education progresses because technology and society progress. Society is changing at a very fast pace thus making continuous education a necessity in today's trade market. The use of continuous education and the search thereof, is crucial to individual success.

As significant and important as education is, merely obtaining it is not enough. It should be continuously pursued and used suitably. According to Steyn & Wolhuter (2008:2) educationists realize that education has limitations to effect changes in society, but education is an important tool which society can use to realize the changes they want. It is an important instrument that cannot be used by itself, but to assist humankind to prepare themselves for the challenges of the twenty-first century. "In order for education to be an effective instrument in assisting humans for change, the structure and functioning of the education system, as the vehicle of effective education, should meet certain requirements." (Steyn & Wolhuter, 2008:2.)

Education policy


The aims of the education system point toward the anticipated standards to be reached over a longer tenure or term from about five to ten years. These aims signifies the milestones such as contribution to society, fulfilling of personal talents, fulfilling of civic responsibilities, carrying tradition forward, providing the engine for economic growth, providing the workforce with the necessary basic 'academic' skills and providing individuals with opportunities, enlightenment and knowledge to be reached in order to satisfy the vision and mission of that particular education system.

The Objectives

These are the milestones to be reached over a shorter period of time from one to five years. These objectives have the tendencies to reach the aims of the education system, thereby realising the vision and mission of a particular system.


The goals of an education system determine the boundaries wherein the system should function. The goal describes the ideal personalities of the underlying beliefs, the educational services, the learners and the educators as the most important constituting parts of the education system. The goal is usually given in more general religious, social, economical and political terms.

The structure in general

The education system is a well logically structured and multifaceted entirety consisting of different parts which can be named the mechanism or sections of the education system. These sections are referred to as the education system policy, the education system administration, the framework for teaching and the support services. Different components of the education system can be located i.e. the educations systems acts, the ministry of education, the departments of education, school councils and different types of educations institutions (Steyn & Wolhuter, 2008:4.) These systems must be ordered according to a specific plan in order to be an effective and functional body.

The structure for education and training levels and programs

The levels on which education is being provided in the particular education system are indicated by the education levels. Conventional levels in the system are the pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary levels. The school years with regard to the levels may differ from education system to education system. It is eminent that the entry points and exit points, compulsory education and relevant entry requirements with regards to these levels are explained.

The educational programs are reported according to the subjects that are included in each program on each level. As a result of this, the element presents the organization of educational programs on the different levels, through which the educational needs of the target group are provided for.

Education institutions

"This element describes the organization of education institutions on different levels." (Steyn & Wolhuter, 2008:7). The aims of the educations institutions as well as the correlation between the different education institutions as well as the different types of education institutions are explained.

Curricula and differentiation

Curriculum and differentiation is a open term referring to the need to modify teaching environments and practices to produce suitably different learning experiences for different learners. Keirouz (1993) suggests typical procedures in the case of gifted and talented students include:

deleting already mastered material from existing curriculum,

adding new content, process, or product expectations to existing curriculum,

extending existing curriculum to provide enrichment activities,

providing course work for able students at an earlier age than usual, and

writing new units or courses that meet the needs of gifted students.


The demography of the learners is reported on the number, age, gender, rural or urban settlement and qualifications obtained by the learners. Admission requirements and codes of conduct, drop-out figures and learner-classroom ratio is also taking in account.


Information regarding the demography of teachers includes the number, age, gender and rural or urban distribution. The pre-service and in-service training opportunities of teachers are provided as well as other relevant information i.e. codes of conduct and the teacher learner ratio.

3.6 Physical facilities

This is the physical area where education is administered. The classrooms, lecture rooms, and laboratories should be mentioned. The accessibility of necessary facilities, the allocation, usage and the costs of facilities will be indicated.

Describe the two components in South Africa, Namibia and USA



4.1.1 The aims and goals of the South- African educational system:

In the White Paper on education and training (March, 1995) the following were accepted as guidelines. It also includes the National Educational Policy Act: Education and training are basic human rights and the state has the obligation to protect these rights. All the citizens of South Africa should have the opportunity to develop their potentials and contribute to the development of the community. Parents and guardians of children have the primary responsibility for the education of their children. The parents have the right to choose the form of education for their children, subject to the reasonable safeguards required by law. The parents rights include chose of language as well as the cultural religious basis of education.

The state has the responsibility to provide assistance to those parents who cannot themselves decide properly on their educational future of their children.

The educational policy should enable all individuals to value, have success to and succeed in lifelong education and training of good quality.

The equal access to basic education and training which includes more than school education should be guaranteed to all. An increasing range of learning possibilities offering the learners greater flexibility in choosing should be provided. All the historical inequalities should be redressed.

State resources must be deployed according to the principal of equity to provide the same quality of learning opportunities for all. The rights of learners and educators should be equitably protected including the policy of affirmative action. The provision of quality education and training is essential and should be provided in an integrated fashion according to the National Qualification Framework.(NQF). Communities must accept ownership for their schools and legitimate, representative governing bodies should be instituted. The principle of democratic governance should increasingly be promoted and should be characterized by consultation with all relevant interest groups.

The culture of teaching, learning and management should be restored and the culture of accountability should be created. The goal of education and training should be to establish a democratic, free, equal, just and peaceful society in South Africa. The diverse religious, cultural and language traditions should be respected and encouraged. Education in the arts should be promoted.

Education should promote the common democratic values and the importance of the due process of the law and civic responsibility.

Education should promote independent and critical thought. Differentiated education should equip the learners with the competencies required by the economy and career development. Mathematics, Science and Technology education are critical to human understanding and economic advancement. Environmental education should be promoted to assist the enjoyment of decent quality of life and sustainable use of natural resources. The principles of attainability, sustainability, efficiency and productivity of the RDP should form the basis of all activities of education.

4.1.2 The objectives of the National Education Policy Act:

The objectives of the National Education Policy Act, 1996 (Act 27 of 1996) are to provide for:

The determination of national education policy by the minister in accordance with certain principles.

Guidelines for consultations to be undertaken prior to the determination of policy and establishment of such bodies.

The publication and implementation of policy; and

To provide for the monitoring and evaluation of education.


4.1.1 The aims and goals of the Namibia educational system:

According to the Government Policy document, Toward Education for All - A development Brief for Education, Culture and Training (1993), a clear vision was translated. At the helm of, Toward Education for All (1993) are four major goals: access, equity, qualities and democracy. For Access it was stated that the Government's first commitment is to provide universal Basic Education. Ultimately, every Namibian is to have twelve years of general comprehensive education. Basic education is intended to ensure that by the year 2000, the majority of the citizens will have acquired basic skills of reading, writing, numeracy and understanding socio-cultural processes and natural phenomena. This is the only way we can march with some hope into the next millennium (Education for All, 1993:33).

On the issue of quality education, (Toward Education for All) puts it that its major commitment is to make our schools good schools and to offer high quality of formal alternatives to formal school (p.37). It goes on to say that we are all learners. Learning is a lifelong activity. Improving the quality of our schools is a responsibility we share. We all have a vital stake in the success of our efforts (p.40).

Namibia devotes a large portion of its financial resources to education in every financial year. The basic education sector, primary and secondary levels, receives more money while the tertiary sector comes second in the priority of education expenditure.

The newly elected government of Namibia inherited an education system of apartheid from South Africa in 1990 which was characterized by inequalities in terms of the distribution of resources, where access to learning was a priority for a few whites, and where quality of education offered was not considered. In repairing the education characterized by some of the above features as well as putting it at the standard of international level, the new government declared righty in Article 20 of the country's constitution that all people should have access to education and basic education shall be free and compulsory. Article 20 states:

All persons shall have the right to education.

Primary education shall be compulsory and the state shall provide reasonable facilities to render effective this right for every resident within Namibia, by establishing and maintaining State schools at which primary education will be provided free of charge.

Children shall not be allowed to leave school until they have completed their primary education or have attained the age of sixteen years, whichever is the sooner, save in so far as this may be authorized by act of Parliament on grounds of health or other considerations pertaining to public interest.

4.1.2 The objectives of the National Education Policy Act:

The objectives of the National Education Policy Act of 2001 as promulgated in December 2001, primary objectives are:

To provide for the provision of accessible, equitable, qualitative and democratic national education service.

To provide for the establishment of the National Advisory Council on Education, the National Examination, Assessment and Certification Board, Regional Education Forums, School Boards, the Education Development Fund.

The establishment of schools and hostels.

The establishment of the Teaching Service and the Teaching Service Committee.

Provision for incidental matters.


4.1.1 The aims and goals of the USA educational system:

The USA is proud to provide equal educational opportunities for all its learners and boasts about leaving no children behind. There is no federal system of education, and each state and local school district within the US has the constitutional right to establish its own form of education. There are however, threads of communality running throughout most of the education systems in the country, including curriculum, accountability standards, and teacher certification regulations, in addition to the sharing of many challenges linked to poverty, language diversity, gender, and race or ethnicity factors. (Steyn & Wolhuter, 2008:300) The US system of education provides free public education, from kindergarten through to grade 12, for all students.

The US does not have a centralized system of education, with most decisions left to individual states and local government, provided their policies do not contradict the US Constitution. Each state retained control over education within its borders, provided its educational policies did not violate provisions in the Constitution, which generally focused on issues of civil rights. In some instances the Federal Government has become directly involved in state and local education regarding the separation of religion from government functions and the protection of civil rights related to race, gender, disability and due process (Steyn & Wolhuter, 2008:310).

However, the national aims of education in the US refer. Differences in the expression of values also effect what countries decide are the national aims of education and on how those are articulated. The most commonly articulated aims across the 16 countries include:

Developing the capacities of the individual

Promoting equal opportunity

Preparing young people for work

Establishing a foundation for further and higher education

Providing knowledge, skills and understanding

Promoting citizenship (sometimes in the form of promoting democracy or community), and

Insuring cultural heritage (or literacy).

According to (Steyn & Wolhuter, 2008:326) the NCLB programme is designated to achieve lofty goals outlined in the programme's four 'common-sense pillars', which include:

- Stronger accountability for results through state-wide accountability systems based on annual testing for all students; - more freedom for states and communities through more flexible use of their federal education funds; - required use of proven education methods supported by scientifically-based research; and - more choices for parents by allowing students assigned to failing schools to attend better public schools, with transportation expenses paid by the failing school (US Department of Education, 2004b).

4.1.2 The objectives of National Act:

The objectives of the Public Law 107 - 110, 107th Congress, No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and Table of Contents of Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 outline:

To Improving the academic achievement of the disadvantaged.

Teacher and principal training and recruiting fund.

Implementing board policies that define public elementary and secondary school operations, including such mandates as graduation requirements and course content;

Monitoring and collecting data to determine compliance with state mandated functions and accountability programs;

Advocating for public education while providing information to state legislatures and citizens regarding education;

Providing technical assistance to the schools, such as help interpreting English for Speakers of Other languages requirements; and

Distributing state funds to local school districts.



4.2.1 Structure for education and training levels and programs:

The National Qualifications Framework is a new approach to the organization of education and training in South Africa after 1994. The NQF is an instrument to implement an outcomes-based integrated approach to education and training. This become a reality and provides opportunities to learn, regardless of age, circumstances and the level of education and training a learner may have. This is called lifelong learning.

The General Education and Training (GET) forms the first band and level 1 of the NQF. This band consists of Grades 1-9 of the formal schooling and forms the nine years of compulsory schooling. The Foundation Phase, Grades 1-3 includes the early childhood development phase and forms the first part of the GET band of the NQF. The overall goal of the curriculum is to provide children with the opportunities to develop to their full potential as active responsible and fulfilled citizens who can play a constructive role in a democratic, non-racist and equitable society.

In the intermediate phase, grades 4-6, while still highly contextualized and largely integrated. Grade 7-9, the Senior Phase is the last phase in the GET band. In this phase the learner should be increasingly able to reason independently of concrete materials and experience. Combined schools offering all phases as mentioned above under one roof.

4.2.2 The curriculum and differentiation:

A new policy for the establishment of new curricula for schools was announced by the minister of education on 24 March 1997. The new curriculum is known as curriculum 2005. The new approach known as OBE is linked to the NQF. The new curriculum was introduced in grade 1 in 1998 and in grade 2 in 1999. The introduction of the curriculum 2005 in the senior grades was in July 1998 postponed by the minister of education due a shortage of resources and funds.

In the new curriculum, specific learning areas are identified for the different levels of the NQF. In addition to the learning areas, there are also three types of outcomes, namely critical outcomes, learning outcomes and specific outcomes. The Foundation Phase makes provision for 3 learning programs: 1. Communication, literacy and language learning 2. Numeracy and Mathematics 3. Life Orientation.

The Intermediate Phase makes provision for 5 learning programs and the Senior Phase provides the following 8 LA's:

1.Communication, literacy and language learning. 2.Human and Social Sciences. 3.Numeracy and Mathematics 4.Technology. 5.Economic and Management Science. 6.Life Orientation 7.Arts and Culture 8.Natural Sciences


4.2.1 Structure for education and training levels and programs:

The formal system in Namibian schools consists of twelve years of schooling broken down as follows:

Four years of lower primary using mother tongue as the medium of instruction;

Three years of upper primary (English as medium of instruction starts in Grade 4 and goes up to grade 12);

3 years of junior secondary; and,

2 years of senior secondary.

However, the formal school system may also be divided into the following phases some of which have combined phases:

Pre-primary phase, caters for the under 6 years age group.

Primary Phase, Lower primary, grades 1 to 4 and upper primary grades 5 to 7.

Secondary Phase, Junior secondary, grades 8 - 10 and senior secondary, grades 11 - 12.

Combined Schools offering both primary, junior secondary or senior secondary grades under one roof.

4.2.2 The curriculum and differentiation:

A new prescribed curriculum was introduced in 1996. I 1998, new curriculum panels and subject, some of which have already been completed (Ministry of Education, Namibia, 2006).

The main areas in primary schools are language skills such as speaking, reading and writing and writing in English and in Namibian languages; social skills such as social studies, religious and moral education; arts and craft like drawing, music and dance; physical education such as hygiene, gardening and handiwork, and mathematics and environmental science (Craelius et al., 1995:690).

In the junior secondary schools the main areas covered are language, religious and moral education, science and mathematics, art and sports and prevocational skills from which two of the following are chosen: domestic science, woodwork, metalwork, commerce, needlework or dressmaking and agricultural production. The senior secondary schools offer language studies, humanities and social sciences, mathematics, physical education and creative, technical and vocational studies as core subjects. Options are wide, but are dependent on the field of study chosen and the availability of physical, instructional and human resources in the school (Steyn & Wolhuter, 2008:151-152).


4.2.1 Structure for Education and training levels and programs: The structure for teaching in the US includes 12 years for regular schooling, followed by a four stage system of higher education. This system is usually preceded by one or two years of pre-school education (US Department of Education, 2005).


Most states require some kind of pre-school and / or kindergarten programme before allowing students to enroll in the first year of an elementary or primary school. Pre-school programs usually occur from one or two years before entry. They have to be between the ages of three to five.

Twelve Years of Formal Schooling: Formal primary education, often refer to as elementary education, lasts for the first five to six years. The remaining years of this 12 year cycle consist of 3 to 4 years of middle school or junior high school, followed by three to four years of senior high school. Depending on local and or state guidelines, a student would attend:

8 years of elementary and 4 years of high school;

4 years of elementary, 4 years of middle and 4 years of high school;

6 years of elementary, 3 years of junior high, and 3 years of senior high school; or

6 years of elementary and 6 years of combined junior or senior high school.

Higher Education:

After successfully completing 12 years of formal schooling and receiving a high school diploma students may choose to attend:

a. A two year vocational institute

b. Two year junior community college, or

c. A four year undergraduate college or university program.

4.2.2 The curriculum and differentiation:

The elementary, middle and or junior high schools enroll students from ages 6 to 12, and include instruction in the fundamental skills or reading, writing and arithmetic. Foreign languages are usually introduced at the middle school level. Depending on local and state regulations, high schools usually require students to enroll in English, Mathematics, General Science, Social Studies and Physical Education courses.

The curriculum may also include two years of a foreign language, applied business courses, technology and the arts. After completing 12 years of formal education, students may apply for either a 4 year degree granting institution or a two year junior or community college.

Similarities of the education systems of South Africa, Namibia and USA:

Equal opportunities for all without prejudice.

Pre-school program.

Junior and Senior phases.

Tertiary education

Special and inclusive education

Mother tongue education

Combined schools

12 years of formal education

Pre-school under 6 years of age

Lifelong learning

Fundamentals skills, reading and writing and numeracy.



Specific learning areas in GET Phase.


GET Band:

Grades 1 to 3 Foundation Phase

Grades 4 to 6 Intermediate Phase

Grades 7 to 9 Senior Phase

FET - Grades 10 - 12.


Focus on Namibian languages skills, social skills, religious and moral studies.


Lower Primary: grades 1 to 4,

Upper Primary: grades 5 to 7

Secondary: grades 8 to 10.

Senior Secondary: grades 11 - 12


1.Focus on English, Mathematics, General Science, Social studies and Physical education. Two years of foreign languages, applied business courses, technology and arts.



8 years elementary school, 4 years high school

4 years elementary, 4 years middle high school and 4 years senior high school.

years elementary, 3 years junior high, 3 years senior high.

6 years elementary, 6 years combined junior and senior high school.

6.Reasons for possible similarities and differences in the 3 education systems:

Throughout the world, fundamentals of education are addressed. These include basic skills such as reading, writing and numeracy. Equal opportunities given to our young learners address the issues of human rights within each of the three countries mentioned. Education is a universal instrument and therefore the learning is and remains lifelong learning. Mother tongue education is an imperative tool for learners that come from the same demography, region or state. It is therefore very important to teach the same language where children are being educated.

Some of the differences could address the issue of population. In the first world countries, it is a given that the population are starting to settle in whilst in the third world countries like South Africa and Namibia, the population is ever increasing. A high percentage of the population is below the active economic age. South Africa's and Namibia's urbanization are in the beginning phase. All three countries experience a high influx of other countries citizens.

The educational needs of every country are addressed. Nobody is excluded. The constitutional right of every child is adhered to. People are inspired by lifelong learners. Throughout the world the needs of people differ. The reason for this is the population of each country and the demographics of that country. Specific needs of countries differ that is why education will differ. The USA is a first world country with highly specialized people, Namibia and South Africa though do not have the infrastructure to compare with the USA.

7. Conclusion

The level of difficulty of the different countries to deal with the expected challenges differs to a large extend. A big difference exists with regard to the level that education systems of the different countries are prepared to effectively deal with challenges of the 21st Century. It is important that the governments, interest groups and individuals in the societies of immerging countries takes responsibility to position the fabric of the community regarding the demographical, geographical, socio-economical, scientific and technological, political and philosophical tendencies. It must take place in such a manner that the particular country can effectively deal with the expected challenges of the 21st Century.

8. Bliography

8.1 Quality Primary Education, Program Overview and Strategic Objectives.

http://www.usaid.gov/na/so2.htm . Date of access: 10 February 2010.

8.2 David Kerr, 1999. Citizenship Education: an International Comparison.

http://www.inca.org.uk/pdf/citizenship_no_intro.pdf . Date of access: 09 February 2010.

8.3 Professional & Associates Resumes.com

http://www.professional-resumes.com/why-continuous-education-is-an-important-tool.html . Date of access 09 February 2010.

8.4 Steyn, H.J., Wolhuter C.C. 2000. Education Systems, Challenges of the 21st Century. Noordbrug. Keurkopie Uitgewers.

8.5 Steyn, H.J., Steyn S.C., & De Waal E.A.S., 2001. The South African Education System, Core characteristics. Noordbrug. Keurkopie Uitgewers.

8.6 Basic Education Namibia.

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8.7 PUBLIC LAW 107-110-JAN. 8, 2002 115 STAT. 1425

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8.8 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_the_United_States. Date of access: 09 February 2010.