Recently, great advances have been made in the introduction of new technology to the formerly disadvantaged schools. Organisations such as Khanya, (Xhosa for enlightenment) have worked to provide computer access in state schools. Many schools have created ICT (Information and Communications Technology) links with colleges across the world. The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust has been very active in supporting mutually beneficial partnerships.
A recent national initiative has been the creation of "FOCUS" schools. These specialise in specific curriculum areas (Business & Commerce, Engineering, Arts & Culture) and are very similar to the UK specialist schools programme.
For university entrance, a "Matriculation Endorsement" is required, although some universities do set their own additional academic requirements.
South Africa has a vibrant higher education sector, with more than a million students enrolled in the country’s universities and universities of technology. All the universities are autonomous, reporting to their own councils rather than government.
By law, no child can be excluded from a state school if his or her parents can't afford to pay the fees. If both parents' annual earnings (before tax) are less than 10 times the annual school fees, the child qualifies for a full fee exemption. Partial exemptions can also be made for parents with financial problems. You should apply to your school governing body for fee exemption. If your application is rejected, you can lodge an appeal with your provincial education department, KwaZulu-Natal Institutions of Education
As of the 2001 Census 22.9% of the population in KwaZulu-Natal aged 20 years or more had received no education, while only 4.8% had higher education.
Many African societies placed strong emphasis on traditional forms of education well before the arrival of Europeans. Adults in Khoisan- and Bantu-speaking societies, for example, had extensive responsibilities for transmitting cultural values and skills within kinship-based groups and sometimes within larger organizations, villages, or districts. Education involved oral histories of the group, tales of heroism and treachery, and practice in the skills necessary for survival in a changing environment.
In many Nguni-speaking chiefdoms of southern Africa, highly regimented age-groups of young men acquired knowledge and skills vital to their survival and prestige under the instruction of respected military, religious, or political leaders. The socialization of women, although sometimes done within age-groups, was more often in small groups of siblings or cousins, and it emphasized domestic and agricultural skills necessary to the survival of the family. In all of these settings, the transmission of religious values was a vital element of education.
The socialization of African youth was sometimes interrupted by warfare or political upheaval. More serious disruptions occurred in the late nineteenth century and the twentieth century, when government policies drew large numbers of adult men away from their homes for long periods of employment in mines or urban industries. Women were heads of households for months or years at a time. And after apartheid became entrenched in the early 1950s, security forces sometimes removed entire villages from their land and relocated them to less desirable areas in the interest of white economic development.
The earliest European schools in South Africa were established in the Cape Colony in the late seventeenth century by Dutch Reformed Church elders committed to biblical instruction, which was necessary for church confirmation. In rural areas, itinerant teachers (meesters ) taught basic literacy and math skills. British mission schools proliferated after 1799, when the first members of the London Missionary Society arrived in the Cape Colony.
Language soon became a sensitive issue in education. At least two dozen English-language schools operated in rural areas of the Cape Colony by 1827, but their presence rankled among devout Afrikaners, who considered the English language and curriculum irrelevant to rural life and Afrikaner values. Throughout the nineteenth century, Afrikaners resisted government policies aimed at the spread of the English language and British values, and many educated their children at home or in the churches.
After British colonial officials began encouraging families to emigrate from Britain to the Cape Colony in 1820, the Colonial Office screened applicants for immigration for background qualifications. They selected educated families, for the most part, to establish a British presence in the Cape Colony, and after their arrival, these parents placed a high priority on education. Throughout this time, most religious schools in the eastern Cape accepted Xhosa children who applied for admission, and in Natal many other Nguni-speaking groups sent their children to mission schools after the mid-nineteenth century. The government also financed teacher training classes for Africans as part of its pacification campaign throughout the nineteenth century.
By 1877 some 60 percent of school-age children in Natal were enrolled in school, as were 49 percent in the Cape Colony. In the Afrikaner republics, however, enrollments remained low--only 12 percent in the Orange Free State and 8 percent in the Transvaal--primarily the result of Afrikaner resistance to British education. Enrollments in these republics increased toward the end of the century, after the government agreed to the use of Afrikaans in the schools and to allow Afrikaner parents greater control over primary and secondary education.
By the late nineteenth century, three types of schools were receiving government assistance--ward schools, or small rural schools generally employing one teacher; district schools, providing primary-level education to several towns in an area; and a few secondary schools in larger cities. But during the last decades of that century, all four provinces virtually abolished African enrollment in government schools. African children attended mission schools, for the most part, and were taught by clergy or by lay teachers, sometimes with government assistance.
Higher education was generally reserved for those who could travel to Europe, but in 1829 the government established the multiracial South African College, which later became the University of Cape Town. Religious seminaries accepted a few African applicants as early as 1841. In 1852 British officials in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State acknowledged the right of Afrikaners to establish their own institutions of higher learning, and based on this understanding, Britain's incoming governor -Sir George Grey- allocated small sums of money to help fund Afrikaner institutions. The government established Grey College--later the University of the Orange Free State- in Bloemfontein in 1855 and placed it under the supervision of the Dutch Reformed Church. The Grey Institute was established in Port Elizabeth in 1856; Graaff-Reinet College was founded in 1860. The Christian College was founded at Potchefstroom in 1869 and was later incorporated into the University of South Africa and renamed the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education.
Following the British victory in the South African War, the new representative of the Crown, Sir Alfred Milner, brought thousands of teachers from Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to instill the English language and British cultural values, especially in the two former Afrikaner republics. To counter the British influence, a group of Afrikaner churches proposed an education program, Christian National Education, to serve as the core of the school curriculum. The government initially refused to fund schools adopting this program, but Jan C. Smuts, the Transvaal leader who later became prime minister, was strongly committed to reconciliation between Afrikaners and English speakers, and he favored local control over many aspects of education. Provincial autonomy in education was strengthened in the early twentieth century, and all four provincial governments used government funds primarily to educate whites.
The National Party (NP) was able to capitalize on the fear of racial integration in the schools to build its support. The NP's narrow election victory in 1948 gave Afrikaans new standing in the schools, and after that, all high-school graduates were required to be proficient in both Afrikaans and English. The NP government also reintroduced Christian National Education as the guiding philosophy of education.
The Bantu Education Act (No. 47) of 1953 widened the gaps in educational opportunities for different racial groups. Two of the architects of Bantu education, Dr. W.M. Eiselen and Dr. Hendrik F. Verwoerd, had studied in Germany and had adopted many elements of National Socialist (Nazi) philosophy. The concept of racial "purity," in particular, provided a rationalization for keeping black education inferior. Verwoerd, then minister of native affairs, said black Africans "should be educated for their opportunities in life," and that there was no place for them "above the level of certain forms of labour." The government also tightened its control over religious high schools by eliminating almost all financial aid, forcing many churches to sell their schools to the government or close them entirely.
Christian National Education supported the NP program of apartheid by calling on educators to reinforce cultural diversity and to rely on "mother-tongue" instruction in the first years of primary school. This philosophy also espoused the idea that a person's social responsibilities and political opportunities are defined, in large part, by that person's ethnic identity. The government also gave strong management control to the school boards, who were elected by the parents in each district.
Official attitudes toward African education were paternalistic, based on trusteeship and segregation. Black education was not supposed to drain government resources away from white education. The number of schools for blacks increased during the 1960s, but their curriculum was designed to prepare children for menial jobs. Per-capita government spending on black education slipped to one-tenth of spending on whites in the 1970s. Black schools had inferior facilities, teachers, and textbooks.
Tensions over language in education erupted into violence on June 16, 1976, when students took to the streets in the Johannesburg township of Soweto. Their action was prompted by the decision of Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd, the architect of the Bantu education system, to enforce a regulation requiring that one-half of all high-school classes must be taught in Afrikaans. A harsh police response resulted in the deaths of several children, some as young as eight or nine years old. In the violence that followed, more than 575 people died, at least 134 of them under the age of eighteen.
Youthful ANC supporters abandoned school in droves; some vowed to "make South Africa ungovernable" to protest against apartheid education. Others left the country for military training camps run by the ANC or other liberation armies, mostly in Angola, Tanzania, or Eastern Europe. "Liberation before education" became their battle cry.
The schools suffered further damage as a result of the unrest of 1976. Vandals and arsonists damaged or destroyed many schools and school property. Students, who tried to attend school, and their teachers were sometimes attacked, and administrators found it increasingly difficult to maintain normal school activities. Some teachers and administrators joined in the protests.
The National Policy for General Affairs Act (No. 76) of 1984 provided some improvements in black education but maintained the overall separation called for by the Bantu education system. This act gave the minister of national education authority to determine general policy for syllabuses, examinations, and certification qualifications in all institutions of formal and informal education. But responsibility for implementing these policies was divided among numerous government departments and offices, resulting in a bewildering array of educational authorities: For example, the Department of Education and Training was responsible for black education outside the homelands. Each of the three houses of parliament--for whites, coloureds, and Indians--had an education department for one racial group, and each of the ten homelands had its own education department. In addition, several other government departments managed specific aspects of education.
Education was compulsory for all racial groups, but at different ages, and the law was enforced differently. Whites were required to attend school between the ages of seven and sixteen. Black children were required to attend school from age seven until the equivalent of seventh grade or the age of sixteen, but this law was enforced only weakly, and not at all in areas where schools were unavailable. For Asians and coloured children, education was compulsory between the ages of seven and fifteen.
The discrepancies in education among racial groups were glaring. Teacher: pupil ratios in primary schools averaged 1:18 in white schools, 1:24 in Asian schools, 1:27 in coloured schools, and 1:39 in black schools. Moreover, whereas 96 percent of all teachers in white schools had teaching certificates, only 15 percent of teachers in black schools were certified. Secondary-school pass rates for black pupils in the nationwide, standardized high-school graduation exams were less than one-half the pass rate for whites.
As the government implemented the 1984 legislation, new violence flared up in response to the limited constitutional reforms that continued to exclude blacks. Finally, the government began to signal its awareness that apartheid could not endure. By 1986 President P.W. Botha (1984-89) had stated that the concept of apartheid was "outdated," and behind-the-scenes negotiations had begun between government officials and imprisoned ANC leader Nelson Mandela. The gap between government spending on education for different racial groups slowly began to narrow, and penalties for defying apartheid rules in education began to ease.
The apartheid regime created different universities for different race groups, often in close proximity and offering the same courses, but neglected the development of historically black institutions. In a country with scarce resources, with institutions of uneven capacity, there was an urgent need to cut down on costly duplication and improve quality across the sector.
After several years of investigation and consultation, the government announced plans to radically restructure higher education through mergers and incorporations that was completed by January 2005 and created 22 institutions out of an existing 36 universities and technikons. Out of the 36 institutions 22 were selected for mergers, four for major incorporations (or loss of facilities), one was being dismantled and its multi-sites slotted into other institutions, and there are 10 new university names.