The Bill of Rights, contained in the Constitution, 1996 stipulates that everyone has the right to a basic education, including adult basic education and further education, which the State, through reasonable measures, must progressively make available and accessible.
Among the closely monitored performance areas are the
number of Grade 12 learners qualifying for university entry as
well as those students' Mathematics and Physical Science
pass rates. Government aims to increase the number of
Grade 12s qualifying to enrol for a Bachelor's Degree to 175 000
One way of doing this is to do an annual national assessment
(ANA) that is standardised and internationally benchmarked.
Analysis of the results of such assessments will
inform the plans the department will adopt to improve the
quality of learning and teaching.
Formal education in South Africa is categorised according
to three levels – General Education and Training, Further
Education and Training (FET) and Higher Education (HE).
Statutory bodies include the:
In February 2011, more than six million primary school
learners from grades one to six sat for the first ANA tests in
Languages (home and first additional language) and Mathematics.
The objective of the ANA is to establish a national
benchmark by which the department will measure levels of
Literacy and Numeracy in primary schools.
The results were released in April 2011 and showed
several weaknesses in Numeracy and Literacy that needed
At the July 2010 Cabinet Lekgotla, government announced
plans to get more than 200 000 children between the ages of
seven and 15 enrolled in school by 2014 by increasing the
number of no-fee schools, while widening feeding schemes.
There is also a drive to ensure that teachers are in class and
teaching for the allocated school time.
By February 2012, there were more than 12 million learners
in 24 365 public schools. They were taught by 365 447
Did you know?
In 2011, the national Grade 12 pass rate was 70,2%, compared
to 67,8% the previous year. The national Department of Basic Education set aside
R8 billion over a period of three years to replace mud and inappropriate
structures and 119 new schools were completed in
2010 as multi-year projects.
In the 2011/12 financial year, over 3 322 students were supported
with bursaries to study at Higher Education and Further Education
and Training (FET) institutions. Through the Human Resource
Development Council initiatives, 90 FET college lecturers were
trained at the universities of Fort Hare, Walter Sisulu and Nelson
Basic education targets
The Department of Basic Education has identified the following targets to be achieved by 2014:
- the number of Grade 12 learners who pass the national examinations and qualify to enter a Bachelor's programme at a university must increase from 105 000 to 175 000
- the number of Grade 12 learners who pass Mathematics and Physical Science must total 225 000 and 165 000 respectively
- the percentage of learners in grades three, six and nine in public schools who obtain the minimum acceptable mark in the national assessments for Language and Mathematics (or Numeracy) must improve from between 27% and 38% to at least 60%.
To support the education system, the Department of Basic
Education set out the following priorities:
- by 2014, there will be universal access to Grade R for all age-appropriate children
- adequate learning and teaching materials will be developed and distributed, particularly to those schools the department has identified.
- standardised ANA of the quality of learning
Did you know?
The National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) is one of the most important components of the Government's Programme
of Action. It was specifically assigned the responsibility
of addressing children's ability to learn by providing them with
The NSNP was extended to all secondary school learners in quintile
three in eight provinces. By February 2012, 8,6 million learners
had benefited from the programme.
The Department of Basic
Education finalised a comprehensive
turnaround plan for improving the quality of learning and
teaching in schools called Action Plan 2014: Towards the
Realisation of Schooling 2025.
The action plan aims to improve all aspects of education
such as teacher recruitment, learner enrolment, school funding,
mass literacy and numeracy and overall quality of education
through specific measurable targets.
The adoption in 2010 of an outcomes-based approach in
implementing government's priorities ensures that the work
of government is measured according to outcomes. The
performance outcomes are politically determined positions of
government to achieve greater and more focused development.
The outcomes approach enables the Department of
Basic Education to set measurable targets and deliverables
for monitoring progress in addressing challenges in education.
Did you know?
In 2010, the department trained over 10 000 Early Childhood
Development (ECD) practitioners through the Expanded
Public Works Programme.
By February 2011, more than 400 000 children accessing
registered ECD facilities were being subsidised by government at a
cost of between R12 and R25 per day.
The Department of Social Development launched the National
ECD Awareness Campaign in June 2011, focusing on registering
ECD facilities in rural areas and providing subsidies to eligible
As part of the campaign, 297 new ECD centres were registered
in the first quarter of 2011, with 6 300 eligible children receiving
subsidies. One of the key elements of this campaign is to ensure equalisation of subsidies for all eligible children in ECD centres,
irrespective of where they live.
By February 2012, there were 19 331 ECD centres in the country.
More than 848 000 children received ECD services and more than
514 000 of them were subsidised by government.
The Education Laws Amendment Act, 2005 provided the legal
foundation for introducing no-fee schools in 2007.
By 2010, no-fee schools made up 81% of the country's
public schooling system, benefiting 118 million learners. The
schools receive a government subsidy of R640 to R855 per learner
for quintiles one to three – the poorest schools classified as no-fee
schools. Schools in quintiles four and five, deemed affluent schools,
receive R428 and R147 per learner, respectively.
Schooling 2025 is the new action plan by government to improve the education system in schools. It aims to improve all aspects of education such as teacher recruitment, learner enrolment, school funding, mass literacy and numeracy and overall quality of education.
The new curriculum gives learners the option of learning
in their mother tongues for the first three years of their
schooling. English will still be taught, but will not replace the
mother tongue or home language in the early grades.
Each grade will have its own programme of study. This
will ease the workload on teachers and allow learners to
focus on specific projects and assessments. The number of
subjects will also be reduced from eight to six for learners
in the intermediate phase. This means that for learners in
grades four to six, Technology will be combined with Science;
Arts and Culture will be combined with Life Orientation; and
Economic and Management Sciences will only be taught to
learners from Grade Seven.
From 2011, learners' end-of-year results are calculated as
- grades R to three will be based on 100% continuous assessment of work done throughout the year
- grades four to six will be based on 75% continuous assessment and 25% year-end exam results
- grades seven to nine will be based on 40% continuous assessment and 60% year-end exam results
- grades 10 to 12 will be based on 25% continuous assessment and 75% year-end exam results.
Did you know?
President Jacob Zuma announced in his State of the Nation
Address in February 2012 that R300 million had been allocated
for preparatory work towards building new universities in
Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape.
The new National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) III was
launched in January 2011. It draws on lessons learned from
NSDS I and II. The key driving force of this strategy is improving
the effectiveness and efficiency of the skills development
system. It represents an explicit commitment to encouraging the
linking of skills development to career paths, career development
and promoting sustainable employment and in-work progression.
The emphasis is particularly on those who do not have relevant
technical skills or adequate reading, writing and numeracy skills to
enable them to find employment.
Further Education and Training (FET)
Nearly 70% of all South Africans are under the age of 35. Government, through the Department of Higher Education and Training, developed a strategy to increase the ratio of young people that are in education, employment or training by 2014/15. The aim of this strategy is to strengthen the capacity of the education and training system to provide pivotal programmes to a growing number of young post-school learners as well as adults at turning points in their careers.
Pivotal programmes are professional, vocational, technical and academic learning programmes, which meet critical needs for economic growth and social development. These programmes generally combine course work at universities, universities of technology or colleges with structured learning at work – through, among other things, professional placements, work-integrated learning, apprenticeships, learnerships and internships.
The FET sector with its 50 colleges and 263 campuses nationally is the primary site for skills-development training. The FET college system carries about 220 000 students in the public colleges and less than 100 000 in private colleges.
Did you know?
The Kha Ri Gude (Tshivenda for "let us learn") Mass Literacy
Campaign was launched in February 2008, to enable 4,7 million
adults above the age of 15 to become literate and numerate
in one of the 11 official languages.
The campaign makes specific efforts to target vulnerable groups.
In 2011, 80% of the learners were women, 8% were people with
disabilities, 25% were youth and 20% were above the age of 60.
Between the inception of the programme and March 2011, approximately
1,5 million learners became literate. From 2010 to March
2011, 609 199 learners successfully completed the programme.
Higher Education (HE)
The department is responsible for developing the country's
education and training institutional capacity and resources
into a coherent but diverse and differentiated post-school
learning system, serving adults and youth within the framework of the Human Resource Development Strategy for South Africa.
The department's budget for 2011/12 was R9,1 billion.
Universities received R19,5 billion and R4,3 billion was
allocated to FET colleges.
Government aims to increase access to HE to the poor
by, among other things, converting loans into bursaries for
qualifying final-year students.
The HE landscape consists of the following institutions:
Did you know?
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe opened the University of
Johannesburg's newly refurbished Soweto Campus in February
The facility serves as the centre for management sciences
and education and includes the installation of new information technology,
student accommodation, lecture halls, a student centre, law
and health clinics, computer laboratories and sport facilities.
Source: Pocket Guide to South Africa 2011/12
Editor: Louise van Niekerk. Government Communication and Information