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Language in Education, 1997

Conceived as integral to government’s strategy to build a non-racial nation, this policy aimed to facilitate communication across the barriers of colour, language and region, while at the same time creating an environment in which respect for languages other than one’s own was encouraged. An updated policy, titled Incremental Introduction of the African Languages (Second Additional Languages), was released forpublic comment in 2013 and is still pending finalisation.

Whole-school evaluation, 2001

Radically different from the school inspection system carried out under apartheid, this policy prescribed an approach built on interactive and transparent processes, including school self-evaluation, ongoingdistrict-based support, and monitoring and external evaluations conducted by supervisory units.

Adult Basic Education and Training, 2003

This policy marked development in the ongoing process of creating an enabling environment within which Adult Basic Education and Training practitioners could improve promotion, implementation,monitoring, evaluation and coordination of their efforts.

National Integrated Early Childhood Development, 2015

This policy aims to facilitate the provision of a comprehensive package of early childhood development(ECD) services for all infants and young children (including children with special needs, disabilities or otherdevelopmental challenges). Its integrated approach to ECD learning leverages many of the provisions of the South African Integrated Programme of Action for Early Childhood Development – Moving Ahead(2013/14–2016/17). It sees ECD as a public good, in line with the National Development Plan which calls to “make ECD a top priority among the measures to improve the quality of education and long-termprospects of future generations”. It also builds on an interim ECD policy that was published in 1997 with the hope of creating a system that would provide opportunities of learning for all, but lacked an integrated approach.

Action Plan to 2019: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2030, 2015

This new curriculum seeks to see every young South African receiving quality schooling by 2030. However, it has a renewed emphasis on curriculum coverage; improving assessments and strengthening quality, efficiency and accountability at all education levels (schools, districts, administrative departments,provinces, etc) and strengthening infrastructure development. It is aligned to the National Development Plan, and seeks to build on the successes in attaining the Millennium Developmental Goals for access,participation and gender equity in education. Prior to the 2014 and 2019 Action Plans was the outcome-based education system introduced in 1998. This system, first called ‘Curriculum 2005’ because it was to be fully in place by the year 2005, intended to democratise education and increase education standards and availability. It was, however, widely criticised, with teachers complaining about being overloaded with administrative work, and unions blaming the system for high failure and drop-out rates.

  • Government’s spend on education increased from R323 billion in 2017 to R351 billion in 2018, constituting 21% of the R1.67 trillion total national budget for the year. The lion’s share (R230 billion) was allocated to basic education, R35 billion went to university transfers and R23 billion to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) received R11 billion.

  •  According to the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, 78% of grade four learners in South Africa cannot read for meaning, compared to 4% internationally. South Africa ranked last out of 50 participating countries.

  •  The Global Competitiveness Report 2017–2018, published by the World Economic Forum, ranked South Africa 128 out of 139 countries for the quality of maths and science higher education.

  •  The National Senior Certificate pass rate increased from 72% in 2016 to 75% in 2017.

  • According to the National Education Infrastructure Management System January 2018 report, 8 702 (37%) of the 23 471 public schools that were included in the research had pit toilets. However, the Department of Basic Education’s rapid audit report stated that there were 5 779 schools with pit toilets. This report was produced at the President’s instruction after yet another student drowned in a pit toilet at an Eastern Cape primary school in March 2018. Social justice organisations Equal Education and SECTION27 questioned the likelihood of 2 923 pit toilets being eradicated within the span of just three months, calling for reliable and accurate information in order to inform an efficient and effective school sanitation implementation plan.

  •  A 2015 Performance and Expenditure Review commissioned by National Treasury found that only 2% of students studying for a national vocational certificate (the matric equivalent of theory and practical experience in a vocational field) completed the course in the minimum three-year period. The Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training attributes these poor results to underfunding which severely impacts the capacity, quality, staff ratios, infrastructure maintenance, research, basic provision and transformation at TVET colleges.

  •  The Department of Higher Education and Training’s Investment Trends on Post-School Education and Training in South Africa report, released in 2018, showed that only 30% of students that registered for four-year undergraduate degrees in 2012 finished in the allocated time.