April 19, 2015 08:24 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

  • World Bank President Jim Yong Kim is seen speaking at a news conference.

    Audio World Bank Head Sees Other Development Banks as Allies

    Slowing economic growth around the world is endangering the World Bank’s goal of ending extreme poverty by the year 2030. Mr. Kim said the goal remains within reach. But he thinks extreme poverty will disappear only if world leaders and financial and development agencies do their part. More

  • Children playing on the shores of Guanabara Bay

    Audio Brazil Working to Clean Dirty Olympic Bay

    Around the world, people are excited for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. The host city for the events is Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The city is known as Cidade Maravilhosa – the Marvelous City – because of its beautiful landscapes. But one body of water in Rio, Guanabara Bay, is not so marvelous. More

  • Video New Movie Shows an Unseen Underwater World

    Jean-Michael Cousteau and his team used an IMAX camera to produce a 40-minute documentary about the world’s oceans. The film shows how the smallest life in the sea is important to the survival of all life on the planet. There are also thousands, maybe millions of species not yet identified. More

  • Audio Early American Railroads Shape Modern Language

    This week, we look at some train and railroad expressions commonly used in American English. This is only part one. There are many idioms and expressions relating to trains. So ... all aboard! Make sure you have your ticket because this train is leaving the station! More

  • Women in Combat

    Video Women Seek to Join US Army Rangers

    Army expects nearly 20 women will begin the difficult training on Monday; it says they will have to meet the same standards as men to graduate from course. Opinion study of male troops finds many do not think women should be Rangers. The Army says those who graduate will be Rangers. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Early American Railroads Shape Modern Language

    This week, we look at some train and railroad expressions commonly used in American English. This is only part one. There are many idioms and expressions relating to trains. So ... all aboard! Make sure you have your ticket because this train is leaving the station! More

  • Everyday Grammar - Gerunds and Infinitives

    Audio Everyday Grammar: Gerunds and Infinitives

    English learners have difficulty with gerunds and infinitives. A gerund is the –ing form of a verb that functions the same as a noun. For example, “Running is fun.” In this sentence, “running” is the gerund. It acts just like a noun. More

  • Autism book

    Video Mother, Son, Co-Write Children’s Book on Autism

    ‘If You Were Me’ tells the story of 18-year-old Burnie Rollinson’s story. He was diagnosed with Asperger's at age three. He has few friends but he enjoys a full and productive life. He and his mother, Anita Rollinson, created their book together. She wrote the words and Burnie drew the pictures. More

  • Video Benito Cereno by Herman Melville, Part Two

    Last week, we told how African slaves on a Spanish ship rebelled in seventeen ninety-nine. They killed most of the Spanish sailors. Only the captain, Benito Cereno and a few others survived. The story continues - what happened on Captain Cereno's ship? Read the second of three part More

  • Video Motor-Free Device Reduces Stress from Walking

    Devices that help people walk were once thought to be difficult, if not impossible, to design. Until recently, such a device required electricity from an external power supply. Now, American scientists have built a small, wearable addition to normal shoes. More

Practice Your Writing

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

 

 

 

Tell us About Our Programs