Cape Town -

Quality education remains elusive as schools are deprived of resources, facilities and qualified teachers, acknowledges the Department of Basic Education.

“It is hard to imagine efficiency, effectiveness and quality in education developing under these circumstances. The quality of education therefore needs to be improved at the primary and secondary level so that the system prepares individuals for the demands of higher education,” read the Education for All 2013 Country Progress Report.

The report tracked the progress made towards the achievement of South Africa’s goals of quality education for all as part of a global initiative launched in 1990.

A number of countries affirmed their commitment to achieving education for all through six key measurable education goals aimed at meeting the educational needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015.

The six goals were:

* Early childhood care and education.

* Access to primary education.

* Educational needs of young people and adults.

* Adult literacy rate.

* Gender parity.

* Quality education.

According to the report, South Africa had made “remarkable progress” in achieving its goals.

“These include promulgating regulations and policies to progressively ensure that children, youth and adults have access to some form of educational institution and skills development programmes.

“Evidence from administrative data and independent surveys depicts an encouraging picture of access to education via enrolment in education institutions in South Africa.”

It said compulsory basic education for pupils aged seven to 15 years in grades 1 to 9 resulted in more than 98 percent enrolment and high retention until Grade 9.

But, the report read, access to education in the post-compulsory phase declined.

“This phase corresponds to children in the 16-18 age band. Approximately 87 percent of 16 to 18-year-old children attended an education institution in 2011. This figure is fairly high by international standards, but needs to improve to reach the targets…”

The report noted that critics argued that high enrolment did not guarantee quality education, but agreed it was a first step towards improving the quality of education.

“With high enrolment rates in the South African schooling system, the environment is now conducive for the department to pursue interventions to improve the quality of education. Although some initiatives are already under way, the challenge remains the implementation and practice of these interventions.

“The department acknowledges that the South African schooling system is characterised by major weaknesses – particularly in relation to the quality of education provision and the poor learning outcomes.”

It was the quality of education that would play a “fundamental role” in achieving the six goals, and much work needed to be done to ensure this was provided.

[email protected]

Cape Times