SA becoming more educated

4 September 2006

Nearly 97% of South African children of school-going age attended some form of educational institution in 2003, according to a report published by the Department of Education.

The report, published on Monday, summarises trends in different aspects of education service provision since 1995, with evidence gleaned from household surveys.

“This service delivery indicator report on the system will be continuously refined in future to include the results of monitoring and evaluation studies and analyses as they become available, so that continuous performance improvement is guaranteed at all levels,” Education Director-General Duncan Hindle said.

‘Marked improvements’
Among the key issues highlighted was the improved educational profile of South Africans over the 1995 to 2003 period.

“Looking at the 25- to 34-year age-group, important improvements are observable,” the department said in a statement. “There have been marked increases in the proportion of the population completing Grade 12.

“In 2003, around 30% of the population over 25 years of age had completed Grade 12, compared to 25.6% in 1995.”

Improved educational attainment was even evident among the country’s 35- to 64-year-olds.

Growing demand
It was observed that the demand for high school and higher education institutions was likely to grow strongly over the medium term, while the demand for primary institutions was expected to grow at a slower rate.

This was inferred from the population growth rate of 16- to 18-year-olds. At 3.7%, it is almost double that of the general population (2%) between 1995 and 2003.

“The situation is particularly acute in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and Gauteng, where growth among the 16- to 18-year age-group was most rapid between 1995 and 2003,” the department said, adding that there were very young populations in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.

Quality education
Although 90% of students had paid less than R500 in annual school fees in 2001, lack of books, followed by lack of money, were cited as the leading barriers to education among 7- to 18-year-olds in 2003.

“Other reasons cited by relatively high numbers of both males and females, [were] that education was useless or uninteresting (9.9% overall), that the individual was too old or too young (8.5%) or that the individual was prevented by illness (8.1%).”

One in ten female students cited pregnancy as being their main reason for not attending school.

“Females were also far more likely to not attend an educational institution due to family commitments, which included child-minding, than males (8.2% versus 0.4%),” the department said.

The report was commissioned by the Department from the Development Policy Research Unit in the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town.

It is the first report to emerge from the new Monitoring and Evaluation Unit in the Department of Education.

“I urge all who are interested in education to make use of the information in these reports in the interests of achieving quality education for all in our system, our country, and on our continent,” Hindle said.

Source: BuaNews

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