October 23, 2014 18:32 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

  • Armed officers approach Parliament Hilll following a shooting incident in Ottawa, Oct. 22, 2014.

    Video Deadly Attack Shocks Canada's Capital

    Also, Kurdish lawmakers in Iraq vote to send Kurdish forces to the Syrian town of Kobani. China said 43 people tested for possible Ebola infection do not have the virus. Russia and Ukraine are still working to reach an agreement on Ukraine's payments for natural Gas. More

  • FBI Director James Comey speaks about the impact of technology on law enforcement, Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, at Brookings Institution in Washington.

    Audio Apple, FBI Battle Over Privacy Rules

    Apple recently said it was increasing security settings on its latest operating system for the company’s wireless devices. Apple said its new encryption rules are designed to protect users from search and seizure of their iPhones. But the changes are of concern to federal investigators. More

  • Survivors of the Ebola virus pose for a picture outside a clinic near Tubmanburg, October 15, 2014. A total of 4,493 people have died from the world's worst Ebola outbreak on record as of Oct. 12, statistics released by the World Health Organization showe

    Audio Ebola Survivors Speak Out about Their Experience

    The number of Ebola cases continues rising. But there is some hope for those who survive the disease. Recently, a conference for Ebola survivors was held for the first time in eastern Sierra Leone. The goal was to offer advice to survivors and increase understanding of the disease. More

  • Men convicted of drug related crimes hear the public announcement for their death sentences in Shenzhen, China, on August 15, 1996.  (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)

    Audio Activists: China Executed 2,400 People in 2013

    The number of executions in China is lower than in earlier years. However, it is more than three times higher than the number of executions in the rest of the world combined. That information comes from Amnesty International. Death penalty numbers are a state secret in China. More

  • Ebola-CDC brief

    Audio  WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

    Also, student leaders in Hong Kong not satisfied with first talks with government officials. North Korea has releases one of three American prisoners. And South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to five years in prison for the deadly shooting of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Iron Ships Clash at Sea

    The American Civil War was fought not only on land, but at sea. In 1862, Confederate and Union forces fought a new kind of navy battle in waters off Hampton Roads, Virginia. It was the first battle between iron ships. On the Confederate side was a ship called the Virginia. | The Making of a Nation More

  • Audio San Francisco Radio Stations Ban Lorde's 'Royals'

    The California baseball team, San Francisco Giants, is playing the Kansas City Royals for the 2014 Major League Baseball championship, the World Series. Two radio stations in San Francisco banned the hit song "Royals." In return, another station in Kansas City chose to play the song once every hour. More

  • A neurovascular unit on a chip being developed by Vanderbilt University researchers. (Vanderbilt University Photo/John Wikswo)

    Video Scientists Design Chips to Act Like Human Organs

    Testing new drugs for safety and effectiveness is a costly process in the United States. It also can take a lot of time. Some scientists are now designing silicon computer chips that act like human organs. The scientists think they have found a way to make the process faster and more economical. More

  • Brain Resource Infographic

    Audio Dealing with Distractions and Overreactions

    Five million American children and teenagers have Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD. ADHD makes it difficult - if not impossible - to stay with a duty until it is complete. Katherine Ellison knows the problem well. | Health Report More

  • Millions of years of history, which can be found on the ocean floor, are collected and analyzed at the Core Repository in New York.

    Video Scientists Create New Maps of Ocean Floor

    Until recently, scientists had mapped only about 20 percent of the sea floor. But our knowledge of the deep seas is changing because of information from satellites. Scientists have produced a new map that provides a detailed picture of the oceans. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs