Our education system is failing the “born free”

The first generation of black South Africans born after apartheid – the so called “born free” – are coming of age, and we are already failing them in the first major test: education.

Since the fall of apartheid, government spending on education has increased to 20% of the national budget, making South Africa one of highest spenders on education, ahead of Switzerland and Japan.

But figures released by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) reveal this hasn’t gone far enough, as only 66% of black South Africans born after 1994 can expect to graduate from High School, whilst the figure for their white peers is 99% – figures which have remained stubbornly stagnant for 5 years.

Unsurprisingly, the nation’s employers are not impressed. When the World Economic Forum asked business leaders across 140 countries to rank the quality of public education in their own countries, South Africa came second to last.

Could this in part explain why there are five times as many unemployed black people as there are white people in employment?

If the rainbow nation is to succeed, more will have to be done to spread opportunity. The first step is education, and the evidence is clear: more needs to be done.


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