16 August 2010
South Africa has delivered on Goal 3 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which calls for the elimination of gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2015.
According to Engendering Statistics, the primary education enrolment rates of girls about doubled in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa, rising faster than boy’ enrolment rates. This substantially reduced large gender gaps in schooling.
Transforming gender relations
Reflecting on the country and department’s successes during an inaugural Women’s Legacy Dialogue in Pretoria last week, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said research shows that 98% of young people aged 7 to 15 are involved in education programmes.
“Youth literacy in South Africa is at 90%, which is above the average of developing countries. The adult literacy rate has reached 77%, bringing South Africa in line with the average for developing countries.
“Clearly, South Africa is committed to transforming gender relations and to women’s empowerment,” she said, pointing out that the country had a progressive constitution that guaranteed the right to education.
Action Plan to 2014
The department has also developed a comprehensive plan for improving basic education – “Action Plan to 2014: Towards the realisation of Schooling 2025”.
She told delegates that the country has introduced gender-sensitive legislation, like the Domestic Violence Act and the Sexual Offences Act.
Motshekga acknowledged that despite these successes, the country also had challenges, including the implementation of Outcomes Based Education (OBE).
Many teachers believe that the way the curriculum is organised places too many burdens and too great a workload on them, she said.
The department has since established a review committee that aims to reduce these burdens by making the curriculum easier to read and understand and by reducing the marking and reporting requirements.