Quality education could provide long-term empowerment for South Africans. File picture: Independent Media

Cape Town - With 800 000 matrics getting ready to write their final exams, research shows South African education is under-performing compared to other countries. This, despite more money being spent on education than the global average.

The head of African Futures and Innovation at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Jakkie Cilliers, said South Africa spent two percent more on education than the global average for upper-middle-class-income countries, yet 30.2 percent of pupils who registered for Grade 10 in 2014 passed Grade 12 last year.

He said the problem was bad management, lack of accountability and the absence of stability.

“Today, the essential challenge when it comes to fixing our education system is political rather than practical. Money is not the problem. The first requirement is for the governing party to either break the stranglehold of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) on the educational sector, or find a way to turn obstruction into positive co-operation.”

He added that quality education could provide long-term empowerment for South Africans.

“Education transforms and equalises opportunity, and there is an important role for both the state and the private sector to play.

"Belatedly, there does appear to be some progress.”

Teachers union Naptosa president Basil Manuel said South Africa was performing worse than countries worse off than us.

“A lot of money goes towards infrastructure, yet we are sitting with a few mud schools. We are not matching up. The million-dollar question is why?”

He added that most of the money was being spent on infrastructure that was lagging behind, when compared with other countries, because of South Africa’s history.

“Our system is different and makes it difficult to compare, but when a school has a good principal, the school works. We are wasting a lot of money on matric winter schools and things, instead of addressing the foundation phase and quality of management that could take schools to the next level.”

The head of the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies centre at the Wits School of Education, Brahm Fleisch, said that while we were spending higher than average on education, making a comparison was problematic.

“All money in basic education is spent on teacher salaries.

"Depending on the province, anywhere between 70 percent and 90 percent given to education is spent on teachers' salaries. The problem is we do not have adequate training of teachers."

Cape Argus