In 2013, there were about 11 975 844 learners in more than 24 136 public schools, with 391 829educators. Independent schools have 513 804 learners, taught by 33 194 educators in 1 584 schools. (Source:
Grade R enrolment has more than doubled, from 300 000 in 2003 to 705 000, which means it is well on track to meet government’s target of having 100% coverage for Grade R by 2014. It is also encouraging that more learners are completing grades 9 and 12, and that the percentage of Grade 12 learners who qualify for Bachelor’s degree studies has increased.
During the 2013 examinations, the overall matric pass rate improved to 78,2%, with 439 779 learners out of 562 112 passing, while the Physical Science pass rate improved to 67,4%.
On a similar note, 142 666 learners passed Mathematics in 2013, taking the pass rate to 59,1%, compared with 54% in 2012. While the Free State was named as the best overall performer with a pass rate of 87,4%, the Eastern Cape – which has had problems ranging from the appointment of educators to infrastructure challenges – achieved a 64,9% average.
In March 2013, the Deputy Minister of Basic Education ofﬁcially launched an e-learning project at the Sunward Park High School in Boksburg which became the ﬁrst public school to transform learning into a fully digital platform.
The Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy campaign has reached over 2,9 million adults. Kha Ri Gude volunteers comprise 44 monitors, 203 coordinators, 3 703 supervisors and 38 407 volunteer educators, including 250 helpers for blind volunteers. In this way, the department contributes to the national effort to create jobs, end poverty and roll-back the frontiers of inequality.
Higher education and training
University enrolments have increased by 12% from 837 779 in 2009 to 938 200 in 2011, which is in line with the aim to increase enrolments to 1,62 million by 2030, as envisaged by the National Development Plan. Overall, the number of university graduates for this period increased by 11%.
The rate at which the number of postgraduates increased was higher than that of overall graduations. Research master’s graduates increased by 26%, and doctoral graduates increased by 15%, from 1 373 in 2009, to 1 576 in 2011.
Linked to the expansion of the university system is the establishment of Sol Plaatje University in the Northern Cape and the University of Mpumalanga. Both universities opened their doors in 2014 in selected academic programmes, using existing buildings. New buildings at the campus of the University of Mpumalanga will enable the enrolment of 1 160 students in the 2016 academic year. Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mr Mduduzi Manana, visited the University of Mpumalanga (UMP) in October 2015 to monitor construction progress.
In 2013, progress was made in separating the Medunsa campus from the University of Limpopo and establishing a new university incorporating that campus.
This will be a comprehensive university of health and allied sciences, including veterinarian science and dentistry.
More qualified teachers
In 2011, 10 370 newly qualified teachers graduated from public universities. This represents an increase of 74,5% since 2008. By 2014, over 14 000 new teachers are expected to be trained and qualified. The Department of Higher Education and Training expects to exceed 14 000 new teacher graduates by 2015.
The Siyabuswa Teacher Education campus was launched in 2013 and several colleges of education were re-opened.
The department’s top priority is to expand and improve the quality of FET colleges, now renamed Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. For the 2012 academic year, the set target was 550 000 student enrolments. However, 657 690 students enrolled, representing an increase of 54% over 2011. Over the 2013 MTEF period, R17,4 billion was allocated to ensure that FET college enrolments continued on this trajectory. This includes investment in FET college infrastructure to turn college campuses into learning, ICT, sports, entertainment and business incubation centres.
No more mud schools
In October 2012, new schools were opened at villages at Libode and Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape. These schools were the first of 49 mud schools identified for replacement in 2012 under the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Development Initiative (Asidi).
The R8,2 billion public-private programme aims to eradicate the 496 mud schools in the country, provide water and sanitation to 1 257 schools and electricity to 878 schools by March 2016.
The department plans to replace 200 inappropriate schools, of which 132 are in the Eastern Cape, 30 in the Free State, three in KwaZulu-Natal, three in Limpopo, ﬁve in Mpumalanga, one in the Northern Cape, one in North West and 25 in the Western Cape. These are long-term school projects. The department aimed for 25% completion by the end of 2013/14, which meant providing sanitation to 873, water to 448 and electricity to 369 schools.
Source: South Africa Yearbook 2013/14
The focus of higher education is on expanding access especially for children of the poor. This includes the conversion of loans into bursaries for qualifying final year students.
Significant progress has been made in turning around South Africa's adult education system with enrolment figures reaching 233 000 in 2011. The Mid Term Review Report, released on 1 June 2012, also notes that the Department of Higher Education and Training had increased access to higher education programmes by expanding spaces and options available at FET colleges and universities (Report notes progress in adult education - SANews.gov.za).
In his 2012/13 Budget Vote Speech Minister Blade Nzimande announced an amount of R499 million allocated to all universities for teaching development grants to assist in improving graduate outputs and R194 million for foundation programmes to improve the success rates of students from disadvantaged educational backgrounds.
Over the next two years, R3.8 billion has been earmarked for universities’ overall infrastructure development, prioritising historically disadvantaged institutions. Two new universities are envisaged for Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape.
Further education and training (FET) colleges are at the centre of skills delivery to drive the South African economy, thereby reducing unemployment and improving the livelihoods of millions of South Africans. Government has invested resources in public FET colleges to ensure that they deliver quality higher education and become institutions of choice for learners, parents and employers.
White Paper for Post-School Education and Training provides a vision for the post-school education and training system sets the basis for building a coherent system and a broad policy for:
- expanding post school provision to improve access
- strengthening institutions to improve quality
- setting out a vision and pathways for achieving a coherent post-school system with articulation, collaboration and coordination between the different components, as well as alignment between education and training institutions and the labour market and
- a post-school education and training system that is equitable, accessible and affordable to all sections of the population, including free education and training for the poor.
The National Development Plan 2030 [PDF], released on 15 August 2012, proposes among others:
- Increasing the number of university graduates and the number of people doing their doctorates
- Building two new universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape
- Building a new medical school in Limpopo and a number of new academic hospitals
- Extending the length of first degrees to four years on a voluntary basi
- Providing full funding assistance covering tuition, books, accommodation and living allowance (in the form of loans and bursaries) to deserving students
- Granting seven-year work permits to all foreigners who graduate from a registered South African university.
Spending on education will grow from R207 billion in 2012/13 to R236 billion in 2014/15. Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan made additional allocations of R18.8 billion over the medium term in his 2012 Budget Speech, including equalisation of learner subsidies for no-fee schools and expanded access to grade R. An amount of R235 million was added to the baseline of the national department of Basic Education over the three-year spending period to extend the national assessments system.
An additional R850 million was allocated to improve university infrastructure, including student accommodation facilities.
The education ministers and MECs have signed delivery agreements based on Outcome 1: Improved quality of basic education [PDF] and Outcome 5: A skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path. These documents list standards against which performance are measured.
- Delivery agreement for outcome 1: Improved quality of basic education [PDF] and
- Delivery agreement for outcome 5: Establish a credible institutional mechanism for skills planning [PDF]
- The Gauteng Department of Education has launched an after-school support programme targeting 791 under performing primary schools in the province.
- Minister of Further Education and Training Blade Nzimande announced changes to the National Students Financial Aid Scheme that will help needy students to complete their studies.
- Minister of Basic Edcuation Angie Motshekga launched the Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development [PDF] on 5 April 2011. This Framework will help address many of the challenges and quality issues plaguing the education system.
- Government will empower principals to manage their schools and they will be held accountable for maintaining a high standard of education in schools. All principals and deputy principals will enter into performance contracts in the future with clear performance targets. This will help to strengthen accountability in and district support for schools.
- Government will track performance through the independently moderated annual national assessments in all public primary schools for learners in grades one to six and a sample of learners in Grade 9. In 2014 the entire General Education and Training Phase (GET) Band (Grades 1-9) took part. Grades 7 and 8 were included as pilot studies based on the fact that 2014 saw the first wall-to-wall implementation of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS). More 7, 3 million Grades 1-9 learners in all public schools took part.
- Government will continue investing in teacher training, especially in Mathematics and Science, through the Funza Lushaka Bursary programme.
- In higher education, government increases access for poor youth by, among other things, converting loans into bursaries for qualifying final-year students.
- In future, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will not start charging interest on student loans until 12 months after a student has graduated or left university. This will apply to all the NSFAS loans to students registered on 1 April 2011 and moving forward.
- A further R50 million has been provided for postgraduate students who require financial assistance to complete their Honours, Master’s and Doctoral Degrees. These students will enter into loans agreements with NSFAS and the money they pay back will be earmarked to fund future postgraduate students.
- Starting from the 2011 academic year, government will introduce free education for the poor at undergraduate level. Students in further education and training colleges who qualify for financial aid will not pay academic fees. This will assist in increasing access to the colleges for students from poor families as well as help the country to meet its needs for intermediate and technical skills.
- A national skills fund project called National Rural Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC) has been initiated to recruit and develop youth between the ages of 18 – 35 years to be trained as para-professionals in rural areas.
- Early Childhood Development - a comprehensive approach to programmes and policies for children from birth to nine years of age.
- Kha ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign - teaches adults to read and write.
- The Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign - calls on all individuals and organisations to assume responsibility for improving the quality of education.
- The Bill of responsibilities - the Department of Basic Education, Lead SA and the National Interfaith Movement are driving this campaign to instil a rights and responsibilities culture in pupils.
- Schooling 2025 is a long term plan for the basic education sector which will allow for the monitoring of progress against a set of measurable indicators.
- The Content Company has piloted a device that will help rural scholars bridge the digital divide. The device will connect underprivileged schools to live online information, without the complications normally associated with using modern computers in these areas.
- Deputy Minister Mduduzi Manana: Higher Education and Training Dept Budget Vote 2014/15, 22 July 2014
- More speeches and statements
Education statistics in South Africa 2013, March 2015
White Paper for Post-School Education and Training: Building on Expanded, Effective and Integrated Post-School Education [PDF], 15 January 2014
General Household Survey (GHS) 2011: Focus on schooling, 26 June 2013
Mid Term Review Report, 1 June 2012
National Development Plan [PDF], 11 November 2011
National Skills Accord [PDF], 21 July 2011
Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development [PDF], 5 April 2011
Human Resource Development Strategy for South Africa 2010-2030 [PDF], 22 February 2010