Friday, January 22, 2010
Of the 551,940 students who took South Africa’s final school exams, nearly 40% failed, a rate nearly 2% worse than in 2008
International studies measuring basic math ability and literacy have shown that even though South Africa spends an amount equal to 5% of its gross domestic product on education, the country is consistently among the worst performers, not just compared with similar-sized middle-income countries, but also judged against poorer African neighbors. Critics argue that the 30% score required for a basic pass is absurdly low and that many students who do pass are not functionally literate or numerate. Moreover, according to education specialists at the Institute of Race Relations, a think-tank, up to half of all students never sit the test. Although the overall figures are bad, the results achieved by black students are even worse. Of the 1.2 million black children who started school in 1996, only 278,000 passed and of those only 42,000 were functionally literate. Many of the country's educational problems are the result of affirmative action and political correctness. Post-apartheid governments moved quickly to fire thousands of experienced white teachers, as part of policies designed to empower the black population.