August 29, 2015 00:16 UTC

learningenglish

High Dropout Rate a Problem for South Africa

Experts say in addition to a high dropout rate, South Africa does not produce enough students with the skills for higher education in math and science. Students are shown outside the University of Johannesburg in January.
Experts say in addition to a high dropout rate, South Africa does not produce enough students with the skills for higher education in math and science. Students are shown outside the University of Johannesburg in January.


Download this story as a PDF

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Since the nineteen nineties, education has been required for all South Africans from age seven to fifteen. Last December, the government announced that seventy percent of students passed their final examination to finish high school. In two thousand eight the passage rate was about sixty-three percent. There have been increases each year since then.

Professor Shireen Motala at the University of Johannesburg says access to basic education is no longer the problem in South Africa. She says most children stay in school until they are about sixteen. The problem now, she says, is that large numbers of them leave without completing high school.

Students take an examination known as the matric in grade twelve, their final or "matriculation" year. Professor Motala notes that less than half the children who started school in two thousand sat for the matric last year.

SHIREEN MOTALA: "Only, I think, around forty-five percent survived, which means that a large number of children are falling by the wayside.  And the concern is that where do those learners actually go to."

South Africa has a twenty-four percent unemployment rate. Those who drop out must compete with better educated people for jobs.

Educational researchers also point to another problem. They say South African schools do not produce enough students with the skills for higher education in math and science.

One of those researchers is Graeme Bloch. He says many schools are not well-equipped.

GRAEME BLOCH: "The reality of poverty and resources, that children do not see laboratories and as a result, or partly as a result, their science marks are not very good. They do not have libraries at school. Ninety-two percent of the schools do not have libraries."

Also, education specialists say in many cases, teachers and school principals do not have the skills or training to do their jobs. In other cases, they are simply not doing their duty to provide an education.

Professor Motala says a number of teachers were poorly trained during the system of apartheid, or racial separation in South Africa. Apartheid ended in nineteen ninety-four.

Secondly, she says, teachers have been confused by the many educational reform efforts in the last fifteen years. And, finally, she thinks language differences in the classroom have not gotten as much attention as they should.

SHIREEN MOTALA: "There is the big issue of language, which we have not taken enough cognizance of, which I think is a huge problem."

Subjects such as math and science are taught in English starting at about age ten. But South Africa has eleven official languages and many more unofficial ones.

South Africa's minister of basic education promises a number of improvements. Angie Motshega says teacher development efforts will focus on subject and content knowledge, and making sure the correct teachers are in the correct jobs.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report.  I'm Bob Doughty.

___

Contributing: Delia Robertson and Jerilyn Watson.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Along
03/18/2012 5:20 AM
happy to learn from voanews


by: Jean
03/14/2012 7:00 PM
What I saw around is a trend that the faster our world proceeds, the less patience students have to finish their education. They just cannot wait and are eager for success. Some fields which require more years become unpopular. And they have difficulties to completely focus on what they are learning. Students pay lots of attention to their social life too earlier than ever. Is it good or bad? I have no idea. Thanks VOA.


by: Silva06
03/13/2012 11:09 AM
Thanks VOA so much


by: HOAI THUY
03/08/2012 10:40 PM
I'm looking for what's the "multiple imputation" means. Could VOA explain for me. Thank you very much. my email: hoaithuy712py@yahoo.com

Learn with The News

  • Audio Is China’s Economic Information Correct?

    An American expert on China says the Chinese government is not influencing information about the country’s economic growth. He believes that the economy is changing quickly. And he says the ways of measuring new economic activity is unable to keep up with the changes. More

  • Audio Ten Years after Katrina, New Orleans Is a Different City

    On the anniversary of storm, President Obama and other officials recognize efforts to remake a city famous for its culture and music. More

  • Video Volunteers Change Lives, Build Community

    A non-profit group called Thread helps high school students find a job, wash their clothes, complete school and more. The relationships between its volunteers and the students are designed to last at least 10 years. | As It Is More

  • Audio China's Slowing Economy Affects Markets Worldwide

    China’s stock market has dropped by more than 40 percent since June. Signs of a slowing economy in China have had effects on other stock markets and raised questions of whether measure to increase growth are enough. More

  • Audio 50 Migrants Found Dead in a Truck in Austria

    The discovery of up to 50 dead refugees in Austria came on the same day as a European migrant crisis meeting in Vienna. Also in the news, President Barack Obama visits New Orleans ahead of the city's 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina; China's stock markets recover after 5 days of losses. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Betty Azar, 'Rock Star' of English Grammar

    It all started with a question from a student. The year was 1965. Betty Azar was teaching her first English as a Second Language class at the University of Iowa. A student from the Middle East asked Ms. Azar, “Why can’t I put a in front of water?’ As in ‘I drank a water.’” More

  • Audio Millions with Mental Illness Get Little or No Treatment

    The World Health Organization reports that hundreds of millions of people worldwide have a mental disorder. However, the WHO adds that most get little or no treatment. Learn the vocabulary needed to talk about this important study. More

  • Hoarding

    Video Could Organizing Your Home Change Your Life?

    A new movement in the United States is all about clearing away unnecessary things in your life. A Japanese cleaning expert on clutter is now the hot topic on playgrounds, at work and parties. But can cleaning out clutter really help you succeed at your job or lose weight? Read on to learn more. More

  • Video More Latin for Your English!

    In part two of our series on Latin’s influence on American English, we learn more Latin words and phrases. From popular movies to rock songs, Latin is used very frequently in American English. More

  • Audio Everyday Grammar: We Suggest That You Learn the Subjunctive

    How can we be polite and stress urgency at the same time? The subjunctive offers speakers a polite and diplomatic way to give a command or express that something is very important. Learn how to use it in noun clauses from the Everyday Grammar experts. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner
Confessions of an English Learner blog

Tell us About Our Programs