27 facts: Education In South Africa

In honor of the 27 months I will be spending in South Africa with the Peace Corps I have compiled a list of 27 facts about the Education System in South Africa.

  1. The Primary and Secondary education system in South Africa is governed by The department of Basic Education.
  2. Like the states in the U.S., each province has their own education departments that help implement policies and deal with local issues.
  3. Most schools are either “primary” schools (grade R plus grades 1 to 7) or “secondary” schools, also known as high schools (grades 8 to 12).
  4. There are approximately 26,000 primary and secondary schools in South Africa.
  5. There are approximately 12.5 million students enrolled in primary and secondary schools in South Africa.
  6. In 2013, South Africa spent $16 Billion (21% its national budget) on education while the U.S. spent $73.5 Billion (3% its national budget) on education.
  7. A report titled ‘Universal Basic Skills: What countries stand to gain’ Rank the U.S. education system 29th and the South African education system 75th, out of 76 countries according to how the students scored on basic skills.
  8. According to the South African national census of 2011 the following percents of citizens have completed an education of high school or higher:
    1. 35.2% of black/African
    2. 32.6% of coloureds
    3. 61.6% of Indians/Asians
    4. 76% of white
  9. The average school has 30 learners per teacher, 480 learners per school, and 16 teachers per school.
  10. Most schools supplement the government grant with other streams of income, such as school fees paid by parents, fundraising events, and receiving donations.
  11. A school cannot refuse to educate a child because of lack of payment of school fees.
  12. In 1996 a program was set up where very poor families are exempt from some or all of their school fees.
  13. In 2006 the education department began a program for the poorest 40% of schools to receive more grant money if they do not charge any fees to families.
  14. The functional illiteracy rates – that is, people 15 years old and over with no education or a highest level of education less than grade seven – have dropped from 31.5% in 2001 to 19.1% in 2011.
  15. Since 2009, all schools teach English as a subject from grade 1 and all subjects are taught in English from grade 4.
  16. A new educational plan requires the department to use school as a vehicle for promoting access to a range of public services amongst learners in areas such as health, poverty alleviation, psychosocial support, sport and culture.
  17. There is a National School Nutrition Programme which provides food for students.
  18. A program from South Africa’s Department of Education that started in 2013 has provided water to 571 of 1120 schools that were identified as not having adequate water supply.
  19. The same program has provided electricity to 294 out of the 916 schools that have been identified as needing electricity.
  20. South Africa has a national curriculum that is similar to Common Core in the U.S.
  21. Private schools in South Africa are called Independent Schools.
  22. There are 31 Public universities in South Africa.
  23. There are 34 Private universities in South Africa.
  24. 1.4 million students in Universities have benefited from a financial aid since 1999.
  25. In 2014 the top 5% of 6th-grade students knew more math than 20% of the nation’s teachers.
  26. By the time most South African children complete the first of half their schooling, they are still functionally innumerate and illiterate.
  27. Students in South Africa take a variety of Standardized tests like those in the U.S.



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