Addressing exclusion There are inadequacies in all areas of society in South Africa primarily due to the legacy of apartheid.
Inequality and exclusion in education have been particularly high for black people and women.
Even though recent research indicates that there is significant change, the unequal access to higher education remains a challenge.
In order to address the past exclusion of black people from higher education, a range of initiatives have been introduced.
Compulsory education for all children was introduced in 1994. Today South Africa has achieved near universal access to schooling for all children of school- going age.
Efforts directed at improving schooling outcomes at higher success rates in senior certificate examinations have been strengthened.
Currently, more than 70% of students in higher education are black, with more than 70% from families that did not have access previously.
One of the most significant changes is the fact that female students constitute a majority in our universities and colleges.
Transformation and empowerment It is naive to assume that achieving increased access of black students and women signals transformation and empowerment.
The investment in support of foundational academic programmes has resulted in improved graduation rates and success in fields of study such as engineering, science and mathematics.
Nine out of 10 (94.3%) South Africans can read and write – in 1994, it was just 61%. We have also added a year of schooling to prepare children for school (Grade R).
With over 700 000 children accessing early childhood education in the last financial year,
we have established a firm foundation for a comprehensive early childhood development (ECD) programme that is an integral part of the education system.
We are targeting schools with poor infrastructure and about 200 out of 500 have been replaced.
We are making progress with upgrading those without water and sanitation and about half that were identified in this government term, have been fixed.
This year we will spend R6.8 -billion on feeding learners through the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP), which is six times more than the R1.2-billion allocated in 2007/08.
We will spend R185.5 -million on learners with intellectual disabilities this year – almost three times the R72-million from last year.
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