SA Matric Rates Released

January 8, 2010

News of the week. The matric rates for SA were released this week. After much anticipation…much disappointment.

Matric rates have fallen for the sixth year in a row to 60.6%. The DA pointed out that the national pass rate has actually dropped by over 10% since 2004.

Here is a report from The Witness leading up to the matric results entitled “South Africa Damned By Its Schools.” It should be noted that KwaZulu Natal was the only province where the matric rate increased by 3.5%.

Even more troubling for the sciences, “The number of pupils that received a 30 percent mark or higher for physical science plunged to 36.8 percent last year from 54.9 percent in 2008, the ministry said in a report. The figure for mathematics was little changed at 46 percent.” (from Business Week article). Here are the results for university bound students from the same article, “Of the 551,940 final-year secondary school students who wrote exams last year, 19.8 percent achieved a mark high enough to enter university or college, the ministry said today. That’s only a slight improvement from 19.4 percent in 2008.”

A “national disgrace.

Here are the comments of President Jacob Zuma and here are those of the Minister of Education, Mrs. Angie Motshekga, MP. Most unhappy, indeed.

To put this further in context. The pass rate is actually a 33% on the matric exams.


Township Style

October 16, 2008

Today we toured our first township hosted by the Northern Cape Town director of housing development. After hearing a fascinating account of the many challenges facing urban planners in Cape Town and in cities all around South Africa, we were given the opportunity to visit the Joe Slovo Township about twenty minutes north of the Cape Town city center. The following are pictures of a barber shop housed in a shipping container which is a common material used for “commercial real estate”, and the second is two “informal settlements”. This is the term given for an illegal home erected on a piece of open land. You could read this as a squatter.

Joe Slovo was originally a black township designated as such by the apartheid government. After the fall of apartheid and the rise of the Mandela-led government, the municipalities were charged with developing appropriate housing for those living in the townships and dealing with the tens of thousands informal settlements. The result was a program in which the government built a small house on a plot of land. The unintended consequence of this was that many of the homeowners then “leased” their plot of land to 4 – 7 additional “settlements” which tapped the electric grid and water of the designated house on the same small plot of land. Thus, the density of residents increased by a factor of 4 over the services that were being provided (water, sewer, electricity, police, etc.) The majority of residents have no job and were thus hanging around when we arrived at 2 pm.

Here is a shot of the kitchen of a small corrugated metal informal settlement (not sure why there are keys/lock on the door):

As we were arriving to the township, the school was letting out and the street were teeming with young children in maroon sweaters, white dress shirts and blue pants. Of course, this lifestyle is hardest on the youngest. Here are some shy Joe Slovo kids: