Stats SA: Whites still better educated than blacks

By Noni Mokati Time of article published Feb 8, 2017

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Black South Africans between the ages of 25-64 still lag behind when it comes to obtaining higher education qualifications compared to other population groups.

This has been revealed in a report released by Statistics South Africa which maintains that white South Africans are far better off as 38% of them have post-secondary education.

The report titled; Educational Enrolment and Achievement 2016 is the third in a series of documents focusing on the country's education system. The first was published in 2015 and dealt with results on a census conducted in schools in Limpopo.

Briefing the media in Cape Town on Wednesday, Statistician General Dr Pali Lehohla said more work was needed in transforming the country's education system.

"We need to look at numbers and ask what is being done in terms of transformation. Are we targeting blacks to be like whites or does South Africa need to look into a holistic target that we can work towards? That is the kind of discussions we should have," Lehohla said.

The report looks at various topics such as literacy, enrolment of pupils at schools, the average years of education received by individuals and intergenerational educational mobility, among other things.

To compile the data, community and general household surveys conducted last year and census reports dating back from 1996 – 2011, were used.

Through research, it was found that close to 15 percent of black Africans and 17 percent of coloured people dropped out of school with only primary education. Overall, 12 percent of South Africans have some post-secondary qualification while the country still produces more white graduates compared to other population groups.

It also emerged that Gauteng has the highest number of people aged 15 and above who complete their high school education with the highest being Indians followed by black people.

The Northern Cape meanwhile ranks as the lowest in the number of individuals likely to complete their secondary education.

Gross enrolment rates show that at primary school level up to 123 percent of learners enrol for basic education while 108 percent are at secondary schools and 3.6 percent enrol at post-secondary institutions.

Some of the alarming trends in the report show that more white children are enrolled at Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres compared to other population groups while Balck Africans on average spend the shortest time in schooling at 8.3 years compared to their white counterparts who spend an average of 11.4 years in school.

The reports also detailed that white-headed households spend three times more in financing their children's education compared to the national average figures on money spent on education by households.

In terms of intergenerational educational mobility, Lehohla said Stats SA looked at households and people's relationships within these households and the role of parents in the home.

The report found that the higher the parent's education level, the more likely that their children will achieve far better education and qualifications.

Lehohla said the report was also established in the context of the goals set out in the National Development Plan for 2030 which state that at least 80% of students should complete 12 years of schooling while the Sustainable Development Goals maintain there should be free, equitable and quality education, access to quality ECD and pre-primary education as well as access to affordable tertiary education.

"These are the things against which you ask the ministry of education, have we achieved this or haven't we? The numbers have to say where are we headed," he said.

Lehohla said it was important for Stat SA to consistently work with the minister of basic education Angie Motshekga and minister of higher education and training Blade Nzimande on these statistics.

When coming to the education and how it impacts on skills and employment, Lehohla said a report will be released in March which looks at the dynamics of students who have no schooling and those who hold post-secondary qualifications but still can't obtain jobs.

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Politics and Development

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