South Africa's top academic criticises education system

Friday November 23 2012


A South African academic Thursday decried the quality of the country's education system particularly in poor black schools, likening it to the apartheid period.

Professor Jonathan Jansen who is the vice-chancellor of the University of the Free State said the standard of Mathematics teaching for black children was where apartheid architects had wanted it to be.

"If we do not fix the education crisis now, this democracy will implode in 10 years' time... and we will be in serious trouble," Jansen said during a memorial lecture of anti-apartheid activist Helen Suzman.

"Neither Hendrick Verwoerd the architect of apartheid nor the current minister of education believe that a black child can excel in mathematics," Jansen was quoted by national news agency SAPA.

He said schools compensate poor teaching of mathematics with a poor, less challenging subject.

South Africa's public schooling rates among the worst in the region, despite the department of education getting the largest share of the national budget.

This year children from schools in the vast provinces of Limpopo and the Eastern Cape were without textbook for the most part of the year, prompting a lawsuit by a rights organisation.

"We have given up trying to find ways of dealing with the problem," said Jansen.

The standard of education including the non-delivery of textbooks has also drawn sharp criticism from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who remarked that if Nelson Mandela knew about the poor state of the country's schools, he would be reduced to tears.