South Africans have been living in a post-apartheid state for just over two decades. However, the honest among us should not hide the fact that the crisis of education in South Africa remains the crisis of poor communities.
Apartheid policies have left a large legacy of school infrastructure backlogs in what were formerly black areas, compared to which provision in formerly white schools appears relatively lavish, with schools provided with well-equipped laboratories and qualified teachers. As it was under the apartheid state, education for black people is far from ideal.
Investments continue to be made in well-resourced areas, rather than in the areas that actually need to be invested in. Disparities within the education system are still an issue, despite the fact that there are plans –– like the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 or Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) –– to improve education and foster future human prosperity.
In November 2013, the Department of Basic Education (DoE) published legally binding standards for school infrastructure. The department gave itself three years to achieve its goal. In November 2016, an investigation by Equal Education into the state of 60 schools across Eastern Cape found that 17 of the 60 schools visited were "substantially inappropriate" for education purposes, while 46 of the 60 schools had at least one "inappropriate" structure.
There are schools in Eastern Cape that still have no access to water, electricity or sanitation. Sometimes classes are held outside, because classrooms are not adequately maintained by the department. There are places where learners get mugged on their way to school, because there is no school transport.These were some of the findings revealed in the Equal Education (EE) 2015/2016 annual report.
Though South Africa is investing in the improvement of education, the nation is not investing in the social services that are imperative to ensure socio-economic justice and equality. In order to achieve a successful education system, the South African DoE should focus strictly on the most basic needs, such as infrastructure and sanitation.
#ReBuildASchool is an open-call campaign to everyone in South Africa to contribute towards building progressive education in South Africa.
Moreover, the DoE needs to look into developing capacity within the teaching force, strengthening relationships of accountability and support amongst stakeholders throughout, sharpening accountability through better information to parents and education authorities, improving understanding of the language issues, and lastly, improving the quality of Early Childhood Development (ECD) facilities –– because emphasis needs to be placed on a bottom-up approach, starting in the ECD phase.
Implementation of the above-listed suggestions will require careful planning, strong leadership and dedication. But without this, deep-seated educational change is merely wishful thinking.
The NDP Chapter 9 states that it "will ensure that all vulnerable families will receive access to comprehensive childhood development services, free education, nutrition plans, improved school infrastructure, and quality teachers". As an #NDP2030 Ambassador, it is with this in mind that I have decided to pledge to #ReBuildASchool one brick at a time.
#ReBuildASchool is an open-call campaign to everyone in South Africa to contribute towards building progressive education in South Africa, by assisting me in my journey to rebuild schools that have poor sanitation and infrastructure across the country.
The campaign will be launched on 15 November 2017.
For further details on how to contribute, be sure to follow #ReBuildASchool on all social media platforms.
Gugu Nonjinge is Communications and Advocacy Officer at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.