South Africa Country Report: Conclusions
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Healthy, dynamic educational systems evolve around developments in employment, society and economy. The stakeholders we consulted in South Africa were vocal on how education within their country should change to reflect the prevailing economic and employment situation. The conclusions in this section reflect some of the key issues and challenges facing South Africa today.
South Africa is in the middle of a long and intense period of social, economic and political change. All three of these elements are encompassed in the drive towards better educating its people. The democracy that the population now enjoys can only be seen as a positive. However, the transition from apartheid is not without its challenges. Many South Africans are still getting used to their new-found freedom, and some are unsure about how to embrace it. While the South African economy is growing - particularly within the context of Africa as a whole - some other parts of the world are not witnessing a similar economic boom.
The demand for skills is not as acute here as it is elsewhere. As aspirations rise, and more young people move through further and higher education, more jobs need to be created so that the belief in the value of education remains. There is already anecdotal evidence that some young people do not believe that education will lead to a job.
There is a drive to change the cultural dynamic in many organisations, particularly in the public sector, and to support the promotion of black workers into more senior positions. The management class in South Africa is still dominated by white males but this is beginning to change. New managers need to learn new skills: how to lead, how to innovate and how to motivate and educate their staff. In fact, a new management culture may develop in South Africa over the coming years - one that acknowledges the complexities of the country's political and social history and, simultaneously, embraces the cultural diversity of its current population.
There are some positive structures in place in the country. The systems developed in the 1990s provide a strong basis for the future. In many ways, the regulatory and accreditation framework that is in place rivals that of developed nations. By acknowledging the need to place businesses at the heart of strategic development, South Africa has a firm foundation to build on. But the need to reform these structures is clear. Strengthening the NQF will increase its value and credibility. It will also support better quality assurance, which will ultimately enhance the general strength of South Africa's professional education programmes.
Before this happens, though, the basic standard of education needs to be addressed. The primary and secondary education system has to improve if the social and economic vision for South Africa is to be realised. The challenge is huge. Progress has been made but there is still a long way to go. There is an opportunity here too; in rebuilding the education system, there is a chance to redefine both the content and the methods of teaching.