Education has come a long way - President

Friday, September 29, 2017
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President Jacob Zuma says government will continue to prioritise education and ensure the upward trends in terms of transforming the education system.

Speaking at the opening of newly built classrooms and a library at Adams College, established in 1853 as the first school in KwaZulu-Natal for Africans, the President said it was important to preserve and celebrate these institutions.

He said they served as a reminder that even in the darkest days of colonialism and apartheid, they were beacons of excellence that fought against apartheid oppression and delivered a democratic country.
“We have come a long way since those dark days. Today, all South African children have the right to study Mathematics and Science in schools. Great strides have been made to ensure access and improve the quality of education for all African children.
“It is truly heart-warming to note and be able to share with you how far we have come from a situation where just a handful of schools offered quality education to black children, to where we are today.”

He said last year saw the highest number of learners completing school in the history of South Africa with a 72% pass rate, with the majority of those being black Africans. These matriculants also achieved more Bachelor passes and more distinctions than ever before. He said the excellent performance of township schools was most encouraging.

“By far, most of the improvements seen in the 2016 results have been amongst black African learners. For instance, the increase of 1 709 between 2015 and 2016 with respect to all learners achieving a mark of 60% or more in Mathematics, becomes an increase of 1 308, if one considers black African learners only.
“These trends thus point to a narrowing of the serious racial inequalities in schools,” said President Zuma.

Township and rural schools have shown the largest improvements in recent history.
“In the past, Bachelor passes tended to be concentrated in former white schools, and were sometimes used as a measure of the inequalities in the schooling system and society in general.
“We have, however, in recent years observed a remarkable shift towards greater equity; our former black and township schools are now in many cases competing with former white schools, but inequalities still persist.” 
In 2005, as many as 60% of Bachelor passes, then also called “endorsements”, came from the 20% of the schooling system that was dominated by former white schools. By 2015, this 20% of the schooling system was only producing 49% of the Bachelor passes. President Zuma said in other words, the remaining 80% of the schooling system, the former black schools, accounted for a larger proportion of all learners deemed ready to access a university.

“This did not happen by accident. It is the result of the consistent effort and emphasis the ANC-led government has put on ensuring that all of our children, regardless of colour or origin, have access to quality basic education.
“We are seeing the fruits of our labour and the decisions taken by the ANC Government to make education a priority bearing fruit,” he said. 
He said the calibre of men and women, who have walked through Adams College’s doors, is overwhelming. The institution has provided black African learners with the opportunity to gain access to an excellent standard of education, “one that we aim to give to every African child today”. –

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