Education in South Africa

South Africa’s Alternative Education

The Minister of Education in South Africa has openly admitted that the school system in South Africa is in a state of utter crisis. The country doesn’t provide an educational system of reasonable quality for all its citizens, and it comes as a surprise that several new initiatives are showing up, such as recently the GED test opt-in.

There are more and more parents who choose to homeschool and use free online resources such as mycareertools.com or gedtestingservice.com to prepare their kids for the GED test. The GED test is a series of five sub-tests on the subject fields of writing, reading, science, social studies, and math.

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Upon successful completion of the tests, students will receive the GED diploma, which is considered the equivalent to a regular US High School Diploma.

Recent changes in the US have resulted in a four-test examination that is modular-formatted and completely computer-based, but it will take a few years before the new test will be rolled out internationally. Homeschooling uses online instruction to prepare the children for the GED test.

The GED diploma is far cheaper, much faster, and so much easier to obtain than most of South Africa’s available matric options, and it is additionally a perfect quick-fix for those adults who are in need of a secondary education certificate.

The GED diploma is recognized and accepted by the majority of post-secondary educational institutions across the world. In South Africa, the GED diploma is recognized by the government’s HESA (Higher Education South Africa) and accepted as the foreign equivalency to a regular high school diploma. South Africa’s HESA website states that the GED diploma is a requirement together with an acceptance letter to a properly-accredited US university.

It is incomprehensible that in Africa, out of the almost 128 million school-aged children, more than 17 million are not in a position that they will ever get any school education at all. And it is even more appalling that some 37 million more African children will be learning so little during their years at school that they probably will not get into any better position than those children who didn’t get any education at all. Consequently, the outlook for social development on the continent is poor, and Africa’s possible future economic growth is limited.

The Traditional South Africa Education System

South Africa’s education system continues to take strain while the government is trying to achieve more or less equal educational opportunities for all its residents. The South African system is divided into three different levels: general basic education and training, continued education and training, and higher education and training. The education process is compulsory through 9th grade level, and includes in total 12 grades.

Basic Education

The first six years of education are in primary school, during which period basic literacy and numeracy will be established.

Middle Education

The subsequent three years will be spent at middle school. The taught subjects are still basically academic, but there will be a slight touch of vocational education and training. Completing this middle education track results in a basic education and training certificate.

Secondary Education

The secondary education system is mainly administered via an extensive network of private colleges and previously predominantly white government-run schools. At these schools, the educational standards are generally pretty high, but due to high tuition and other school fees, will most students from poorer backgrounds unfortunately not be able to attend these institutions.

Vocational Education

Vocational education and training is mainly sector-based education that is administrated by training authorities across functional and professional lines. The vocational education is mostly provided by for-profit colleges that are operating partly via government funding. This section of education includes a plethora of moistly independent adult schools of which some maintain pretty high standards.

Tertiary Education

The section of tertiary education is provided via an impressive number of state-operated and private educational institutions that are working under overall guidance and control of the South Africa Ministry of Higher Education.

Here we can find polytechnics that educate and train a wide variety of technicians in various disciplines, and universities are awarding traditional degrees (bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees). In South Africa, we still can see a substantial divide in quality and organizational standards between previously “white” and “independent homeland” educational institutions.