The Challenges of the Post-Apartheid Era in South Africa

Rounding out our orientation in Washington, DC was a great discussion on the post-Apartheid movement in South Africa and the successes it has created, yet the many challenges that it faces in a culture of classes. Some highlights include:

  • Major challenges for equal access to quality education for all races and classes, with white and wealthier South Africans still accessing a majority of the best schools, or moving to private schools
  • Better access to jobs for everyone, but much of their upward mobility is based on education (this is why so many South Africans see education as their key to success in life!)
  • While the bureaucratic system of education is providing more access to better jobs for black teachers who didn’t have that access during apartheid, learners in poorer schools will continue to lose out when better teachers move to better-paying schools
  • Urban schools include more experienced teachers and more access to better resources, where rural teachers are usually less experienced teachers with less access to resources for student learning
  • Corruption continues to be a problem at all levels of government, and the education system is no exception. The system is very bureaucratic, involving multiple layers of authority for even the most basic approvals, this makes it hard to root out corruption within the system

While the post-apartheid era has helped to level the playing field for many South Africans, the challenges that remain are very much based on class. While learners in poorer families see the advantages of education as their ticket to a brighter future, obtaining access to those resources is harder but more within their reach than during the apartheid era.