South Africa Educational Study Program
May 17- June 12, 2001

Background historical information:

South Africa is a place of vivid contrast and many challenges. While education is one of the means to achieve South Africa's transformation, the educational system has also been part of the legacy of inequality and mismanagement. Schools were structured so white schools were the main beneficiaries of resources, black schools were the most disadvantaged. During apartheid, there was a disintegration of the culture of learning in many black schools and the drop out rates soared.

The democratic elections occurred in 1994 and the Government of South
Africa initiated a process to transform the educational system. The goal was to improve the quality of education through developing an equitable and equal access for all. Since 1994, South Africa has created a national Department of Education and nine provincial departments.

An example of the various populations that we will observe follows: The majority of children enrolled in the Edendale school are of African, Indian or Colored descent, while the majority of teachers are white. We will also visit the Lynnwood School in Pretoria (a government school) where the school population is primary white including teaching staff. The issue of race in post apartheid South Africa affects all aspects of life, and education is no exception. There are still many areas that are evolving, and from our previous visits, inequalities in resources for students and in teacher preparation programs, still exist and need addressing. This is a process that will take time and hard work.

Observations in Schools:

We will observe, interview and discuss the following component cultures of South Africa within each setting that we observe and there will be differences depending on the area, the people, and whether the school is operated by a privately or by the government.

The Student Dimension

How many days per year do students attend school, how many years are mandatory, how long is the school day, and what subject areas do the students study? What is the dress code? What is the status of student behavior in the schools and what options are available to teachers to deal with discipline problems? How are students grouped for instruction? What assessment tools are used to evaluate students and what happens to students who do not meet academic standards? How are families involved in the school? What fees are charged for attendance in public and private schools? What do students need to apply to a university?

The Teacher Dimension

What is the typical day for a teacher? How many days each year do teachers work and do teachers need to hold second jobs during the school year or in the summer? How do teachers allocate their time for direct instruction, planning, supervising students in lunch or study halls, meeting with faculty or department heads, and involvement in after school activities? How do salaries and the status of teachers compare with those of other occupations? How is a teacher's salary determined?

What are the educational requirements for becoming a teacher? How are teacher's evaluated? What type of relationship does the teacher have with students, parents, colleagues, and administration? How many students are in a typical class? How are students' special needs met? How are teaching vacancies filled?

The Principal Dimension

How are principals selected? What role does the principal fulfill in regards to teacher selection, evaluation of staff, budget development, school schedule, and curriculum development. What is the salary range? What educational requirements are required?

The Governmental Dimension

What role does local, regional and national government take in regards to education? Are there local school boards? How is education financed (private as well as government)? Is there a national curricula or national goals, and, if so explain? Do families have many choices regarding the schools their children will attend? What are some of the current trends or issues concerning education?

The Societal Dimension

What kinds of supports are available for families in need of services?

What kinds ofconnections are schools making to the community and

How does the general public view education in South Africa?

For additional information about the journey contact:

Karen Brackett or Susan Lehr
Co-Directors of the Study Program in South Africa
Education Department
Phone: (518) 580-5140 Fax (518)580-5146