South Africa will become the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to have all its children in primary school by 2030.
Unesco’s global education monitoring report, released this week, predicts that South Africa will lead the pack in meeting the UN’s millennium development goal of primary education for all children by 2030.
Report spokesman Kate Redman said that the next country in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve universal primary education would be Equatorial Guinea – but at least 15 years after South Africa.
“Ten countries in the region will not achieve universal primary completion before the next century,” she said.
Redman said finance and social protection programmes contributed to South Africa’s progress.
“One positive policy helping enrolment is the provision of a year of pre-primary education.
A no-fee policy for primary school education implemented between 2008 and 2009 was highlighted as contributing to this country’s lead.
“South Africa allocated 6.1% of its GDP to education. Only five other countries in the region allocated more than 6%. Many allocate only 2%,” she said.
But education experts said providing access to primary education would be of little value if the high drop-out rate could not be reduced.
Wits University educational leadership and policy studies professor Felix Maringe said the primary school completion rate in South Africa was among the lowest on the continent.
“Research shows that the drop-out rate in primary schooling is highest in Grade 2 and Grade 7. Why are schools unable to retain pupils?
“The Freedom Charter talks of free access to quality education, and not just to education ,” he said.
Education Department spokes-man Elijah Mhlanga said the government’s pro-poor package had contributed to opening the doors to learning. But there was “so much more to do”.
University of Pretoria education psychologist Kobus Maree said that the number of children not in primary school had dwindled steadily but not all schools were functional and the quality of education available at some left much to be desired.
“I believe there is general access to education already. What is sorely needed is an improvement in the quality of teaching at all levels, especially in contexts challenged by socioeconomic disadvantage.
“Teacher training must be improved,” he said.
Source: Time Live