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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

Print version ISSN 0041-4751

Abstract

LE CORDEUR, Michael. A preliminary investigation into the state of education after 1994 in selected schools in the Western Cape. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2010, vol.50, n.4, pp. 520-540. ISSN 0041-4751.

Since South Africa became a democracy in 1994, the country has been subjected to deep-rooted socio-political and socio-economic change which inevitably has left its mark on the education system. Because there were just too many inequalities and injustices it made sense that the education system had to change. There are concerns, however, that the new education system does not deliver the expected results. The current pool of human capital in the Western Cape does not demonstrate the knowledge and skills required for the province to implement its socio-economic development programme(s). Subsequently the human capital development strategy was launched to address certain challenges in the province, such as the high unemployment rate among youth and the lack of skills to take advantage of work and entrepreneurial opportunities. The strategy has a threefold aim namely to improve the following key strands: the conditions of education, the environment of education and the quality of education, each with its own education foci. In this paper the current state of post-apartheid education in South Africa with special reference to the Western Cape is investigated by measuring it against the human capital development strategy. By using a literature review the following education foci are examined: school management and governance; basic functionality, school infrastructure and provision of educators; transformation; a positive school climate; the role of teacher unions; parental involvement; school safety, security and health; a relevant curriculum; quality of teaching and teacher development; and learner performance. This is done in order to determine what progress, if any, has been made since 1994 to develop a pool of human capital in the province that will be able to face the challenges of the new democracy. During the second phase of this study each focus was investigated by means of a questionnaire administered at sixty selected primary and secondary schools in the Western Cape. Principals at these schools were asked to complete the questionnaires because questionnaires are a good way of collecting certain types of information quickly and relatively cheaply as long as subjects are sufficiently disciplined" (Bell 1998:76). During the design of the questionnaire it was decided to make use of closed questions because the structure imposed on the respondents' answers provides the researcher with information which is of uniform length and in a form that lends itself nicely to being qualifi ed and compared (Denscombe 1998:101). It was not practical to have the questionnaire completed by all the schools in the Western Cape. Therefore it was decided to take the option of a representative sample "because the researcher has some notion of the probability that these will be a representative cross-section of the whole" (Denscombe 1998:34). The researcher ensured that the sample was representative of all schools in the Western Cape with regards to race, previous departments, language and income. It must be taken into consideration that most schools in the Western Cape cater for the poor and middle class Afrikaans speaking Coloured population. Participating schools came from poor, middle class and wealthy schools. With regards to the former education departments the sample was representative of former Model C-schools, (white), Council of Representatives (coloured) and the Department of Education and Training (black). As far as Language of Learning and Teaching (LoLT) is concerned, both Afrikaans and English schools as well as double medium schools were included in the survey. The responses from the principals were compared with the data obtained from the literature review. From the results it is clear that although the education department has made significant progress with three key aspects of education, i.e. the conditions of education, the environment of education and the quality of education in the province, there is still some work to be done before the youth in this province, especially in black schools, will be in a position to take up their rightful place in a democratic society.

Keywords : human capital development strategy; national education foci; conditions; environment and quality of education; dysfunctional schools; outcomes-based education.

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