Friday, January 20, 2012

Education in South Africa

FORTE HIGH SCHOOL in Soweto, the sprawling black township outside Johannesburg, was once one of South Africa’s notoriously ill-equipped and poorly performing schools. Five years ago it had no running water, no functioning library, no computers and no sports ground. Designed for 800 pupils, it had to cater for 1,300. Only half those who reached the final year matriculated, gaining the most basic certificate for finishing school. But thanks to philanthropists “adopting” it, Forte has turned itself around. Last year it achieved an 80% pass rate, and half of its matric candidates qualified for university.

Among them was Albert Dove, a black student living with his unemployed, disabled father and poor enough to qualify for free school lunches. He got six distinctions in his exams, including 100% in physical science. Every weekend and throughout the holidays he attended extra maths and science classes at a centre in Soweto run by an international charity.

Much of his success, he said, is thanks to a school-feeding scheme set up by the Art of Living Foundation, an international outfit. “I have enough food in my stomach,” he explained. “I will not go out and steal from other children or go and gamble in the streets. I will not go out looking for a girlfriend or boyfriend to give me money for food…I will not smoke drugs to keep away the stress of having no food at home.” He wants to study nanotechnology but must first find funds. A university science course costs around 30,000 rand ($3,740) a year, excluding board and keep.  Read More

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