February 27, 2015 05:58 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

  • Kurdish fighters

    Audio Islamic State Kidnaps More than 200 Assyrian Christians

    Also, news reports say the Islamic State militant who appeared under face cover in several videos of hostage beheadings has been identified by his friends. And, the US Navy says it is now flying its most advanced surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea. More

  • Video Pakistan Tightens School Security after Peshawar Attack

    More than 150 people, mostly children, were killed in the attack at a school in Peshawar last year. Pakistan authority tightens security to protect the schools. One method is to train teachers at Peshawar’s Frontier College for Women in a week-long class on using weapons. More

  • Audio Will North Korea Follow Vietnam, Myanmar?

    South Korea has called for North Korea to follow the reform model of two other Asian countries. But observers say North Korea will likely reject the idea. President Park Geun-hye proposed the idea earlier this month. She said North Korea should carry out reforms like Vietnam. More

  • New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton (R) speaks during a news conference at police headquarters, Feb. 25, 2015, in New York, regarding three men who were arrested on charges of plotting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group and wage war

    Audio Three in US Charged with Supporting Islamic State

    All three suspects lived in Brooklyn, New York. One was arrested before trying to board a flight to Turkey on Wednesday. Also in the news, Chad's army reportedly killed 270 Boko Haram militants in fighting near the border; and Ukraine has reported reduced fighting in rebel-held areas in the east. More

  • Audio China Investing Heavily in Latin America

    China said last month it plans to invest $250 billion in Latin American and Caribbean countries over the next 10 years. A Chinese company plans to build a canal in Nicaragua. Chinese and Argentine leaders signed several agreements, including one to cooperate on two new nuclear power stations. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Young Writer’s Plays Explore Race, Identity in America

    Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' latest play 'An Octoroon,' is showing at a theater in New York City. It is based on a 19th Century work by Dion Boucicault. It tells about a white man who falls in love with a woman who is part black. At the time, mixed race marriage was banned in southern US states. More

  • Audio Understanding the Misunderstood Teenage Brain

    A common battle cry of teenagers to adults is, "You just don't understand me!" Well, they might be right. A brain scientist (neuroscientist) and mother to two teenagers says the teenage brain is quite different from the adult brain. She "debunks," or clears up three common myths about teenagers. More

  • Audio Politics Share the Stage at the Oscars

    Racial equality was not the only political or disputed issue performers discussed last night. Some used their acceptances speeches to talk about immigration, women’s rights, illness, suicide and government surveillance. And the movie of an American sniper continues to fuel the debate. More

  • Video Technology Increases Chances of Surviving Aneurym

    Each year, half a million people die from brain aneurysms, -- when a blood vessel burst in the brain. For survivors, physical disabilities are often servere. They may include memory problems, loss of balance, trouble speaking and even blindness. But new technologies are increasing survival rates. More

  • Director Alejandro Inarritu accepts the Oscar for Best Director for his film "Birdman" at the 87th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, Feb. 22, 2015.

    'Birdman' Takes Oscars for Best Picture, Director

    The movie won four Academy Awards in all. 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' also earned four Oscars. The Best Actress award went to Julianne Moore for 'Still Alice' and Eddie Redmayne was honored with the Best Actor Oscar for his work in 'The Theory of Everything.' 'Whiplash' took home three Oscars. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner blog
Confessions of an English Learner blog

 

 

 

Tell us About Our Programs