The South Africa education system today is a disastrous system and under apartheid proved to be a better solution for all citizens. The failing rate and standards of students attending schools and universities are shocking. The African National Congress (ANC) repelled all the apartheid acts in 1994 and set out to change the education system to demolish segregation in schools across the land.
During apartheid, education was segregated, and ethnic groups attended schools or universities designed to meet the requirements of the apartheid laws. Apartheid is condemned, a human rights disaster and no longer applicable, yet the substandard of education today is placing South Africa into a category of being the worst schooling system in the world.
In 2013, Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, a South African politician and leader of the Agang SA party said the education system during apartheid was better than the current structure of the ANC government. Ramphele said the biggest crime committed by the government was the role of destroying the quality of education. The global competitiveness of Education confirmed the lower substandard of education now and as Ramphele said it was a major concern for the younger generation of today. Ramphele did acknowledge that there were more graduates today than under the apartheid system but referenced the quality to the high unemployment rate.
The 1959 Extension of University Education Act made it a criminal offense for non-white students to register at a university without written consent by the Minister of Internal Affairs. However, the act also provided for the establishment of new ethnically based institutions for blacks and other cultural groups.
During this time, Afrikaans universities, Potchefstroom, Pretoria, Orange Free State, including the English Rhodes University were restricted to whites only. The Fort Hare University in the Eastern Cape was for non-whites. More university opened around the country, although not fully multiracial, kept classes segregated. Natal University, Cape Town, and Witwatersrand allowed other races to attend the higher education facilities.
The apartheid government established new universities for the multicultural ethnic groups and a university in Bellville; Cape Town was built for the colored people. Ngoye in Zululand was created for the Zulus, Duran Natal for the Indians and Turfloop in the former Transvaal (now Gauteng) for the Sotho-Tswana population.
The popular Fort Hare universality was attended to by ANC opponents including, Nelson Mandela, , Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Robert Sobukwe, Oliver Tambo, Desmond Tutu, Kenneth Kaunda, Robert Mugabe (president of Zimbabwe) and Joshua Nkomo. It is overwhelming to understand the offer of free education by the apartheid government to these members who became tyrannical front-runners.
Nelson Mandela became the first non-white president of South Africa and during 1940 spent two years studying Latin and physics at the Forte Hare public university in the Eastern Cape. Mandela wrote about the time spent at this apartheid university in an autobiography, and said, “For young black South Africans, like myself, it was Oxford and Cambridge, Harvard and Yale all rolled into one.”
The matric or grade 12-pass mark for real maths drops every year and points to a failing school system. In 2006, the ANC stipulated that every student must write either maths (recognized by universities) or maths literacy (not recognized by universities) to matriculate. Over 327 schools in South Africa dropped maths as a subject and offer maths literacy.
Dropping maths and introducing the simple maths literacy subject is an admission that the ANC government failures. The plummeting standards of education are a reason there is a lack of qualified engineers, doctors and intelligent teachers in South Africa. The country is not producing enough young people with physics and maths skills.
During apartheid years, the black students were well educated because the white government set higher standards. Today the ANC government treats the students like stupid idiots. The education crisis cannot be blamed on apartheid.
The architect of Apartheid, Hendrik Verwoerd as Minister of Native Affairs at the time when it was pivotal to position the goal of separating the races, commented on the place of blacks in the European community. Verwoerd said, “There is no place for [the Bantu] in the European community above the level of certain forms of labor. What is the use of teaching the Bantu child mathematics when it cannot use it in practice?” The point made by teaching mathematics if it was not going to be put into practice makes sense. However, it is more to the point of ensuring all South Africans understand the importance of mathematics to progress and ensure a better future for all.
Perhaps it is the statement made by President Jacob Zuma: that since 1994, the ANC government had immensely improved the lives of citizens that needs to be explained. When education standards are dropped to achieve a high pass rate to make a statement of how great the progress of education has become. Yes, the country is in good hands.
Opinion by Laura Oneale
Nelsonmandela.org -1959. Extension of University Education Act No 45
News24 – Apartheid education was better – Ramphele
SAHistory.org – Bantu Education Act No 47 of 1953
Photo Courtesy of Valerie Hinojosa Flickr Page – Creative Commons License