Trends in education

Information from Census 2011 offers a picture of the current trends, providing a base from which to plan the way ahead.The census provides some good news about education in South Africa.

Kefiloe Masiteng, deputy director general of population and social statistics at Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), says that it has become clear that South Africa is approaching the universal education standard for enrolment into school: "Ninety-seven percent of children aged six and seven are being enrolled in schools. This is pretty close to the millennium development goals standard of 100%."

Another important trend is in levels of education, known in statistical terms as "educational attainment".

Focusing on the ages of 20 and above, almost 35% of people have some secondary education and about 12% have attained higher (post-school) education.

"Among those that have attained higher education is a muted skills base for a knowledge economy," says Masiteng.


The national drive for South Africa to be more competitive in a global environment depends partly on the extent of a shift towards an information society.

Levels of higher education also reflect people's chances of entering the labour market.

Looking at the levels of higher education represented according to ethnicity, the coloured population has the highest level of incomplete secondary schooling, followed by the black population.

Masiteng notes that, if this trend continues for these population groups, their chances of getting into the labour market will be minimised even more.

A larger proportion of people (aged 20 and above) who have passed matric is in the group aged 35 to 44. Considered the core of the labour market, this group stands a higher chance of gaining employment, Masiteng says.

The school drop-out rate reflects another pattern. "Although the ages from six to 14 are close to the millennium development goals's universal education enrolment standard, when children are over the age of 14 the percentage rapidly drops."

By age 18, the school drop-out rate is 65%. Masiteng says possible reasons for this include pregnancy, financial challenges and "situations where young people become caregivers to ill household members" and there- fore reflect some of the issues facing the education sector.

The yearly general household survey, another Stats SA instrument, contains questions about the reasons for drop-out rates. Because the household survey has been conducted for over 10 years, Masiteng says that causality trends can be identified. The response that dominates reasons for leaving school is a lack of money.

Drop-out rates remain a priority concern, but on the flip side the level of schooling has improved. Between the 1996 and 2011 censuses, the number of people who have had no schooling has declined from 19.1% to 9% of the population.

These education statistics impact on living standards and the labour market.

Masiteng says people who have dropped out of school will be marginalised and left out of the labour market, and that throughput to the labour market will be compromised to the point that skills supply will not meet demand.

Informing planning
Education statistics information is used in planning and decision-making around school numbers, the location of schools and associated infrastructure, among others.

It also assists with planning teacher numbers and teacher-learner ratios. "Once there is an understanding around the status of levels of education, the educational sector can review policies and move forward," says Masiteng.

Insights into the knowledge base are reinforced by other sources of statistics, such as population count.

This provides a measure of size within catchment areas for children of school-going age as well as for those who go to school, and migration statistics that impact on resource allocation, among other things. Of note is that stakeholders have requested information on the quality of education in the next census.

This article was supplied and approved by the Mail & Guardian's advertisers. It forms part of a larger supplement.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

The shame of 40 000 missing education certificates

Graduates are being left in the lurch by a higher education department that is simply unable to deliver the crucial certificates proving their qualifications - in some cases dating back to 1992

Hollowing of skills and defunding of Stats SA works for a failing state

Perhaps the government does want us to know how bad things really are

Excess deaths increase but we are ‘still in the dark’

The data shows 17 000 more people have died than usual since May, but only 6 000 deaths have officially been attributed to Covid-19

South Africa’s GDP contracts 2%, entrenches recession

Stats SA’s latest GDP figures show the country’s economy has shrunk 2% in the first quarter of 2020

South Africa’s Covid-19 economic stimulus plan — opportunity out of crisis

The president’s R500-billion economic package offers a new deal for desperate South Africans across the class divide

Build infrastructure to support the fourth industrial revolution

Technology has the potential to solve many of the country’s social problems such as electricity production and the eradication of pit latrines
Advertising

Subscribers only

The shame of 40 000 missing education certificates

Graduates are being left in the lurch by a higher education department that is simply unable to deliver the crucial certificates proving their qualifications - in some cases dating back to 1992

The living nightmare of environmental activists who protest mine expansion

Last week Fikile Ntshangase was gunned down as activists fight mining company Tendele’s expansions. Community members tell the M&G about the ‘kill lists’ and the dread they live with every day

More top stories

Joe Biden’s debate guests run the only Zimbabwean restaurant in...

A Zimbabwean restaurant feeding people in need formed an unlikely addition to Joe Biden’s election campaign

The high road is in harm reduction

While the restriction of movement curtailed the health services for people who use drugs in some parts of the world, it propelled other countries into finding innovative ways to continue services, a new report reveals

Khaya Sithole: Tsakani Maluleke’s example – and challenge

Shattering the glass ceiling is not enough, the new auditor general must make ‘live’ audits the norm here in SA

State’s wage freeze sparks apoplexy

Public sector unions have cried foul over the government’s plan to freeze wages for three years and have vowed to fight back.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday