Worrying state of schooling
Statistics on SA schools have revealed an alarmingly high number of primary school girls falling pregnant
The research is contained in a report compiled by the Department of Basic Education that was released earlier this month.
The report, The Annual Surveys for Ordinary Schools for 2009-2010, found that:
- In 2009, about 109 pupils fell pregnant in Grade 3 alone — up from 17 in the same grade in 2008. In Grade 4, the number increased to 107 from 67 in 2008, and in Grade 5, 297 girls fell pregnant in 2009;
- The highest concentration of pregnant pupils were in high school from Grade 7 to 9. In 2009, 45,276 girls fell pregnant.
The report also details a litany of negative circumstances under which the country’s children are expected to complete their school careers, such as:
- Only 25% of ordinary schools had internet in 2010, and about 54% of schools had a land line telephones. Only 3% of schools in Limpopo had access to broadband compared to 98% of those in the Western Cape, a glaring “inequality”;
- About 26% of schools had multi-grade classes in 2010, and the majority came from the Eastern Cape.
Other societal factors mentioned in the report show that up to a million children grew up without fathers while many others depend on the country’s extensive social grant network for financial support.
The report, drawn from information culled from surveys conducted in March every year in all ordinary schools in South Africa, only focuses on pupils, and the department is expected to release separate research on teachers at a later stage.
An education expert warned that should these challenges not receive urgent attention, South Africa will pay a significant price in the future.
Professor Kobus Maree, a lecturer in educational psychology at the University of Pretoria, said the alarming high pregnancy rate at Grade 3 was “appalling” and “deeply upsetting”.
He said a large number of these children fell pregnant because of rape or abuse.
“This is really unacceptable. Of all those children who fall pregnant in Grade 3, how many rapists are brought to book? If you look at these figures, that means there are so many rapists in the country walking around free,” he said.
Maree said teachers to whom he had recently spoken felt that life orientation had been dumped on them without adequate training. He recommended that government make community service compulsory for child psychologists, in order to have them assist in teacher training in schools.
The number of children on child grants is also a reflection of the reliance on the social network provided by government.
In 2009, the 2,813,76 on grants grew to 3,110,688 a year later.
In 2010, 37% of all pupils in the Eastern Cape and 32% pupils in Mpumalanga received the monthly grant.
Maree said while government had to shoulder much of the blame, parents were also responsible for failing their own children as they did not give enough support.
Maree said while government has boldly stated its intentions by allocating a large chunk of its budget towards education, incompetent and less determined public officials were costing the State by not driving delivery of infrastructure and resources like material at ground level.
He cited the recent Pretoria High Court judgment which ordered the Basic Education department to deliver text books to pupils in Limpopo by June 15.
“It goes without saying that [some] schools have such a backlog, that the divide at Grade 12 is huge,” he said.
Maree said government needed to hire qualified employees to clean up the system — irrespective of the politics or race.