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People, Education

bantustans, black universities, black education, University of Zululand, Rand Afrikaans University

Under apartheid the education system was racially structured with separate national departments for whites, Coloureds, Asians, and blacks outside of the bantustans. Ten separate education departments were established within the bantustans. Although government spending on black education increased greatly in the late 1980s, at the end of the apartheid era in 1994 per capita expenditures for white pupils were still four times higher than expenditures for blacks; spending on education for Asians and Coloured people was closer to spending for whites.

Many black teachers were poorly qualified, and there were more than twice as many pupils per teacher for blacks as for whites outside the bantustans. Black schools had fewer classrooms than white schools, shortages of textbooks were common, and few schools had science laboratories of any kind. As a result, only about 40 percent of black candidates passed matriculation (the qualification for completing secondary school, a minimum requirement for entrance to a university) in the early 1990s. This compared with pass rates of about 85 percent for Coloured students and 95 percent for whites and Asians. At least 1.5 million school-age blacks were not in school in the early 1990s, and only about 1 percent of those who started school eventually passed matriculation examinations.

The challenge of restructuring education in post-apartheid society is immense. The new government created a unified education system with no racial distinctions, but merging 14 education departments into one has been a major task. Currently, only three out of five children with Standard 5 education (seven years of school) are actually literate. The government’s goal is ten years of compulsory, state-provided education for all, but this will take time to achieve. Progress was made in 1995, when for the first time, all six-year-olds were enrolled in grade one. The targeted 40 to 1 pupil-teacher ratio entails bussing blacks to schools in predominantly white areas. The number of private schools, attended largely by whites, increased dramatically in the mid-1990s as public schools were integrated.

The government’s budget for 1996 allocated 23.9 percent of total expenditures to education, but massive inequalities in teacher qualifications, buildings, sports facilities, and equipment are hard to eradicate. This applies not only to racial inequalities but also to contrasts between township schools with relatively good resources and schools in shantytowns and rural areas. Overall, it is estimated that at least 2,000 new schools must be built, 65,000 new classrooms equipped, 60,000 teachers educated and trained, and 50 million textbooks printed.

South Africa has a well-developed higher education system, which was also racially segregated until after apartheid. In 1995 there were 385,000 students attending 21 universities and 190,000 students attending technikons (technical or vocational institutes). About 37 percent of each group was white. Numbers of blacks in historically white universities grew rapidly after 1994, even in Afrikaans-language universities. Most black students, however, attend historically black universities, including the ten township campuses of Vista University that opened in the early 1980s. Some blacks take correspondence courses through the University of South Africa in Pretoria (founded in 1873). Other historically black universities include the University of Fort Hare (1916) in Alice, the University of the North (1959) near Pietersburg, the University of North-West (1979, formerly called the University of Bophuthatswana) in Mmabatho, and the University of Zululand (1960) near Empangeni. The University of the Western Cape (1960) in Bellville was historically Coloured, and Durban-Westville (1961) in Durban was historically Indian. Traditionally white universities include the English-speaking University of Cape Town (founded as the South African College in 1829, and established as a full university in 1918) in Cape Town, the University of the Witwatersrand (1922) in Johannesburg, the University of Natal (1910) in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, and Rhodes University (1904) in Grahamstown. Afrikaans-speaking universities include the University of the Orange Free State (1855) in Bloemfontein, the University of Pretoria (founded as Transvaal University College in 1908; became University of Pretoria in 1930) in Pretoria, the University of Stellenbosch (1918) in Stellenbosch, and the Rand Afrikaans University (1966) in Johannesburg. The University of Port Elizabeth (1964) in Port Elizabeth uses both English and Afrikaans.



Article key phrases:

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