South Africa’s education system has not yet recovered from the Bantu Education Act in 1953, which forced segregation between the black and white population of the country. In addition to the political and economic divide it enforced, the major provision was to force racially separated educational facilities, schools and even exposure to certain subjects.
Today, the South African government invests more in education. Based on UNICEF data, an average of 16.4 percent of the country’s total budget has gone toward education per year since 2014. Much of this investment goes toward teacher training and retention because the country is experiencing a significant shortage of teachers. Despite the government doubling the number of annual graduates from teaching programs, the Center for Development and Enterprise predicts that the country will be in need of more than 30,000 new teachers by 2025.
In addition to a lack of teachers, the quality of instruction is also insufficient in South Africa. Students’ academic performance is relatively poor compared to neighboring countries; the Economist reported that 27 percent of students who have attended school for six years still cannot read, compared to 4 percent in Tanzania and 19 percent on Zimbabwe.