Oxford University Press Southern Africa has recently published the Oxford South African Dictionary of School Terminology. Compiled by Clive Roos and Michael Wilter, specialists in South African education and its legal framework, this dictionary supports all stakeholders in understanding the schooling framework, enabling them to think and act in an informed way.

Packed with more than 750 key terms from the South African Schools Act, the Employment of Educators Act and other relevant national laws and regulations, the dictionary clearly explains meaning and context and explores complex issues through the use of diagrams and notes on relevant case law.

… funding per schoolchild has declined 8% in seven years. In so many ways this undoes any of the advances we think we might have made in the education arena over the last seven years.

…teacher salaries increased 57%, compared with a 38% increase in the consumer price index (CPI).

The problem with this is that total expenditure on education has only increased by the rate of inflation, about 7% a year, and thus hasn’t kept up with these two factors (increased enrolment and above-inflation salary increases).

Seen together, this has translated into a significant decline in the purchasing power of expenditure on basic education between 2010 and 2017. Looking at the medium-term expenditure framework, the decline is set to continue.

The Treasury needs to reassess how it is funding basic education and explain why there has been a significant decline in the actual resources available on the ground to educate South African pupils.

Read more in Business Day

Tags: Education/Funding

The death of five-year-old Lumka Mthethwa who fell into a pit latrine at her school in the Eastern Cape shook us all. And it was particularly hurtful, and disappointing given that we had seen such a tragic incident before when Micheal Komape, another five year old suffered the same death back in 2014. 

Recent Water Research Commission (WRC) research outcomes on the state of school sanitation found that failed sanitation is a widespread problem at South Africa’s rural schools and violates children’s rights to safety, health, and dignity, and those with special needs are inadequately supported.

Read more in Bizcommunity

Tags: School Infrastructure

Just 1% of international aid dedicated to young children’s development is being targeted on pre-school education, according to a report that warns spending is imbalanced and short-sighted.

While global funding for early childhood development has grown in recent years, almost all of this investment – 95% – has been channelled towards health and nutrition initiatives. Donors are deterred from spending on pre-school education, the report says, because the benefits of doing so are less immediate and visible.

Read more in the Guardian

Tags: Education/Funding

One of the best safeguards to ensuring a fair education system is making sure that all teachers have a similar level of capability. In a good system, a child in a rural poorer community and a child in a wealthier urban suburb should have an equally good teacher standing in front of them every day. But, when we look at the data on how teachers are trained in South Africa, it is clear that our system still sets teachers up for failure long before they even enter the classroom – and in the process further disadvantages the children they teach. 

Read more in Daily Maverick

Tags: teacher support

Setswana and Xitsonga readers can now enjoy the Nal’ibali supplements in their mother languages from mid-April 2018. This latest addition brings the total number of languages to eight, for Nal’ibali’s bilingual supplements. It is a significant milestone for Nal’ibali, who fully promotes reading and writing in mother languages


Tags: Mother Tongue Education

Equal Education is dismayed by the statement of Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, following the meeting of the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) on 22 March 2018.

If South Africans are to believe in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s “new dawn”, then government must adhere to the school infrastructure law, and the deadlines that it stipulates. Click here to read the Regulations Relating to Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure.

It is outrageous that, in 2018, there is still a need to audit the status of sanitation at our schools. Or is this another delay tactic?

Since 29 November 2013, Minister Motshekga has been bound by a law, which she adopted, which details the infrastructure standards for each school. The law, the Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure, sets out deadlines for fixing infrastructure in schools. It says that by 29 November 2016, schools must have been provided with access to water, electricity and decent sanitation. By that same date, all schools built entirely from inappropriate materials (mud, asbestos, wood) ought to have been eradicated. The law explicitly says that plain pit latrines are not allowed at schools.

Despite this, less than two months after the law came into existence, 5-year-old Michael Komape drowned in a dilapidated pit latrine at his school in Chebeng Village, Limpopo.

This tragedy was not enough to spur Minister Motshekga and the MECs into action.

Instead of conducting a toilet audit then, and properly preparing to meet the deadlines in the Norms and Standards law, the education MECs released infrastructure reports that brazenly stated that the deadlines stipulated by the law would not be met. These infrastructure reports were only made public after six months of EE members publicly campaigning for their release, and only after we sent the Department of Basic Education requests in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). In its report, the Eastern Cape Department of Education admitted that it did not have a grasp on the extent of its infrastructure backlog.

Read more on Equal Education's website

…studies measured the effects of 30 to 45 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity three to five days a week on many factors — physical factors such as obesity, cardiovascular fitness, blood pressure and bone density, as well as depression, anxiety, self-concept and academic performance. Based on strong evidence in a number of these categories, the panel firmly recommended that students should participate in one hour (or more) of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day. Looking specifically at academic performance, the panel found strong evidence to support the conclusion that “physical activity has a positive influence on memory, concentration and classroom behavior.”


Gugu Mhlungu chats to the founder of Ikamva LeAfrika Education Foundation Amanda Charles about how her NPO is improving literacy for school-going girls that have an interest in Science.

Charles says that the foundation was founded in 2015 by herself and a group of friends because they discovered that the system of Education in South Africa is two parallel systems within one. Charles adds that the outcome of the two systems don’t benefit the children that come out of them.

Our aim is to ensure that children who come from schools in the township and rural areas receive the same education as model C schools.

Listen to the Interview on Cape Talk

Bhisho’s High Court heard arguments on Thursday about who should be held accountable for schools that do not meet the Department of Basic Education’s norms and standards.

In a statement Equal Education said: “We chose to have this case heard in the Bhisho High Court, rather than anywhere else in South Africa, because the Eastern Cape is the province with the worst infrastructure backlog.”

On day two Advocate Chris Erasmus, counsel for the state, continued his argument that Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga could not be held responsible for water and sanitation and electricity in schools because that was not her department. He stressed that the department had limited resources and budget constraints.


Tags: School Infrastructure

A study by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation revealed that when given simple maths and English tests:

  • 5 of 22 primary school teachers were able to identify the main idea in a simple paragraph.
  • 6 of 22 were able to do a simple calculation in maths.
  • Teachers scored as low as 10% for English first additional language and 5% for maths.

“At least 18% of teachers were not in class during the days when schools were visited by two researchers,” stated the report. Education expert Jaco Deacon said the problem was due to poor leadership at schools.

Read more in MyBroadband


Tags: Maths and Science School Leadership teacher support

South Africa urgently needs to fix the basic literacy and numeracy education in primary schools in order to prevent the fallout that occurs on high school level‚ says education expert Mary Metcalfe.

She says the country should have a consultative process to deal with poor levels of reading and writing in the foundation phase of the education system.

Metcalfe says the public should be discussing the real issues of the foundation phase in the education system and not just the pass percentage.

“The right conversation is how do we address the big issues within the education. This is the massive leaving of young people out of the [education] system after Grade 9 and 10. Secondly‚ [we need to discuss] why that happens – which is because we don’t get reading‚ writing and comprehension right in primary schools. That is where the national consultation needs to happen.

Read more in Times Live

Minister of Higher Education Naledi Pandor says graduate unemployment is lower than unemployment among the general population.

Speaking to Eusebius McKaiser, Pandor says the growing unemployment statistic is something to be concerned about, however, she says those with university education tend to be the ones who find employment above those who are unskilled.

We have not succeeded in convincing the South African population that the root to critical skills and to entrepreneurship and employment opportunity is the technical and vocational sector.

— Naledi Pandor, Minister of Higher Education

Read more in Cape Talk 

Speaking to Eusebius McKaiser, Pandor says the growing unemployment statistic is something to be concerned about, however, she says those with university education tend to be the ones who find employment above those who are unskilled.

We have not succeeded in convincing the South African population that the root to critical skills and to entrepreneurship and employment opportunity is the technical and vocational sector. — Naledi Pandor, Minister of Higher Education

Minister Pandor says the timing of the free higher education announcement by former president, Jacob Zuma was a surprise, though it had been deliberated on during the Heher Commission. “I don't agree that funding has been taken away from early childhood development or the provision of infrastructure within the basic education sector.”

Listen to the interview on Cape Talk

Tags: Higher Education

“We are 52 students in one container”

More than 150 learners from Philippi High School marched to Parliament on Tuesday to voice their concerns over conditions at their school and a shortage of teachers.

“We are 52 students in one container [classroom]. The situation is making it difficult for us to learn,” said Grade 10 student Thembaka Silarwa.

“We want to learn but we want to learn in an environment that is good. Those containers are hot when it’s hot and they can be very cold in winter,” she said. “When we have to write exams we write outside, and they have to hire a hall for matric students.”

Learners have been complaining about the school since 2015 when police fired stun grenades at them for protesting over the lack of infrastructure.

Read more in GroundUp

Tags: School Infrastructure

The government ought to be investing more in early childhood development instead of fee-free higher education, according to the CEO of the DG Murray Trust (DMT), Dr David Harrison.

Government has allocated R57 billion to fund free fees for first-year tertiary students from low household incomes.

The money will be allocated for the next three years and is the largest reallocation of resources towards government’s spending priorities.

Fee-free higher education was announced by former President Jacob Zuma last year.

Harrison says the R57 billion may be wasted on many tertiary students who drop out in their first year and says fee-free tertiary education will not address the root of many learning challenges.

Read more in Cape Talk

Tags: Education/Funding

The government ought to be investing more in early childhood development instead of fee-free higher education, according to the CEO of the DG Murray Trust (DMT), Dr David Harrison. Harrison says the R57 billion may be wasted on many tertiary students who drop out in their first year and says fee-free tertiary education will not address the root of many learning challenges. He believes that government should adopt a bottom up approach and invest in early childhood education to improve the throughput rate at universities.

Listen to the interview on Cape Talk

Tags: Early Childhood Education Higher Education

Education budget a contradiction says Stats SA

The education of South Africa’s youth was touted as one of the top three national priorities in former finance minister Malusi Gigaba’s 2018 budget speech. An amount of R57 billion was set aside towards this initiative, however, without a solid early childhood development strategy the government would be building on unstable ground.

This was the takeaway from a thematic report on early education titled: Early Childhood Development in South Africa for 2016, delivered by the Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke on Tuesday.

This was the takeaway from a thematic report on early education titled: Early Childhood Development in South Africa for 2016, delivered by the Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke on Tuesday. In his report, Risenga echoed the sentiments of President Cyril Ramaphosa who, in his inaugural state of the nation address, said: “If we are to break the cycle of poverty, we need to educate the children of the poor.”

Read more in City Press

Tags: Early Childhood Education Higher Education

The PIRLS 2016 literacy tests on nearly 13,000 South African schoolchildren  showed that 78 percent of grade four children cannot read for meaning in any language. South Africa scored lowest of the 50 countries tested. Another study had found that 27 percent of children under five suffer from stunting, and that their brains are not developing as they should. Damage like this is largely irreversible. It leads to low school achievement and work productivity – and so to ongoing poverty.

Read more in the Huffington Post

Tags: Literacy

Call for homework to fall

South African schools are latching on to a new wave of thinking in schools that sees the eradication of homework, much to the relief of many pupils and their often-stressed and frazzled parents.

The policy is based on the Finland Phenomenon, which takes a fresh look at the way pupils are taught and how the overall school system is managed.

The Sun Valley Group of schools, based in Cape Town, has adopted the policy. Principal John Keller is due to address a KwaZulu-Natal primary school on how the programme can work for their pupils.

Read more in The Daily News

What SA needs is for the wealthy to fork out

Last week Ramaphosa told a dinner in Davos: “Each one of us must contribute to ensure that we have a shared future in this fractured world. So‚ we are all called upon — citizens of South Africa — and as contributors of either capital or technology‚ to get South Africa to work together to have this shared future. Can we all agree that we are going to have a shared future — a shared future that is based on a shared vision?”

We cannot have a shared future if 27% of our people are unemployed and thousands of children are receiving sub-par education. Is it perhaps time for a once-off tax on the wealthy‚ all the wealthy and high-earning‚ black and white‚ that goes into a reconstruction and development programme? This kitty would be for targeted implementation of infrastructure and education improvements as envisaged in the National Development Plan.

Read more in Sowetan Live

  1. Why did Kagiso Trust (KT) decide to focus on the full education pipeline (from ECD to Higher Education) within the Education Development pillar?

After reviewing our Beyers Naudé Schools Development Programme (BNSDP) model, established in 2004, one of the observations was that some learners have cumulative gaps. They progress from one grade to the next, with some areas of learning being under-achieved. It is when they reach high school, that it is detected that there is a need for additional assistance needed for numeracy and literacy. This is not a challenge that is unique to our BNSDP learners but a challenge throughout South Africa.

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) who assess reading comprehension and monitors trends in reading literacy at five-year intervals assessed fourth year reading comprehension in over 60 countries including South Africa.  In PIRLS recent 2016 findings, South Africa was the lowest performing country (mean score of 320) out of 50 countries.  This means that South Africa may be six years behind the top performing countries. Around 78% of South African Grade 4 learners do not reach the international benchmarks and therefore do not have basic reading skills by the end of the Grade 4 school year, in contrast to only 4% of learners internationally.

Another study done by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) showed that only one-quarter of children at public, no-fee schools (Quintile 1, 2 and 3) obtained mathematics scores above the minimum level of competency.

Therefore, we need to address these cumulative gaps, by making investments starting in Early Childhood Development (ECD), we are more likely to observe long-term benefit in terms of keeping learners in school longer, which improves learner throughput in the education system (a measure introduced to evaluate learner retention) and ensure that all the learning outcomes, class appropriate competencies and early childhood cognitive development are built early.

Our education development programme will continue with basic education interventions through the BNSDP ( which will now include  ECD as well as exit opportunity programme supporting technical high schools), and Higher Education through the Eric Molobi Scholarship Programme  and extend it to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

Read more on Kagiso Trust's website

Many young students and professionals from across the world come to South Africa to take advantage of relatively low university fees, allowing them to upgrade their qualifications at world-renowned universities. However, when their student visas expire, the South African government makes no attempt to retain this highly educated pool of talent. 

These students gratefully accept jobs in developed countries where their skills are valued, and South Africa loses these trained individuals forever.

Read more in News24

Even the ANC’s own Minister for Women, Susan Shabangu, has publicly stated that schools have become “high-risk” spaces for learners, and the current Basic Education Laws Amendment (Bela) Bill makes no attempt whatsoever to address violence, bullying, sexual abuse and illegal corporal punishment by teachers. Michael Kwet from Yale Law School Privacy Lab has just blown the whistle on a whole new hazard: significant details of Operation Phakisa for Education (OPE), initiated by President Zuma, have been kept secret.

Apparently, sending your child to school could mean selling out your child's privacy, their most intimate personal data and detailed personality information - far beyond what Google tracks - right through their school years all the way into adulthood, maybe even for life.

Read more in IOL

Tags: School Safety

South Africa's journey of transformation is far from over. This is evident in the stories from the classrooms of our poorest schools, still heavily burdened by the effects of the apartheid education policy.

 But what became equally evident to me, when attending the Adopt-a-School annual Back to School party hosted by its founder and chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa, is what can be achieved when South Africans come together and commit to being part of the solution.
It has been proven time and again that sustainable change can only be achieved through a unified effort. Hope and possibility prevail when one becomes part of the effort to make a difference in the lives of our children, and the Back to School Party shows what can transpire and be genuinely celebrated when business, individuals and organisations come together for the greater good.

Children who live in poverty, lack food, and live in unhealthy environments are more likely to suffer from stunting and other forms of malnutrition such as obesity. The most recent statistics show that 27% of children in South Africa under five years old are stunted and the rates are even higher among children younger than two years old.

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See detailed stats on child hunger on CI’s Children Count website: 

Tags: Childhood Nutrition

In this clip, Mary Metcalfe explains that in order to move forward, we need to hear each other and understand the various perspectives that are informing conflict and must also inform resolution.

She says that the current generation of students are asking fundamentally different questions than the generation that went before them. They realise that, despite our bill of rights, constitution and expanded education systems, the poor are still excluded and too many people are not accessing university.  Society needs to recognise this loss of potential. 

We need to encourage disciplined debate and need to see through the anger to get to the substance beneath.

We will only find solutions if there is sufficient common cause to unite.

Watch the clip via Project Rise

Tags: Education

Adopt-a-School Foundation is working

In 2001, Cyril Ramaphosa was asked to donate a fax machine to Tshilidzi Primary School in Soweto, which he had attended as a child. When he went to the school to hand over the fax machine, he saw that this wasn’t all that was needed. This inspired him and a group of others to initiate the Adopt-a-School Foundation in 2002, with the aim of mobilising the private sector, organisations and individuals to support schools. There has been no looking back.  

To date Adopt-a-School has benefitted over 700 000 learners in 620 schools adopted across South Africa, Mozambique and Lesotho, creating 6 728 temporary jobs and benefitting and supporting 1 012 small businesses in the process. The key objective of the foundation is to implement Whole School Development, a holistic model aimed at improving the academic, infrastructural and social environment in schools.  

Read more in Mail & Guardian