As with any country, the youth in South Africa represents the future of the country. Education therefore plays a vital role to prepare and guide them to be the leaders and role models of tomorrow.
Children are protected by the Children’s Act of 2005, providing them with their own unique Bill of Rights. This Act gives them the right to basic education and education in their mother tongue. School is compulsory for children from the year they turn seven and go to Grade One, until the year they turn 15 or completed Grade 9.
In South Africa, there are two main options available for schooling: Government subsidised schools and private schools. Private schooling are further categorised into privately funded schools and distance education.
Government subsidised schools, also known as public schools, are the most popular school type in South Africa. It is more available and more affordable as it is funded by the Department of Education. A school subsidised by the government needs to adhere to the rules and regulations stipulated by the government. This includes the curriculum to follow and the prescribed textbooks.
Each province in South Africa has a provincial government with additional regulations to which the schools should abide. Regulations affecting the provinces are school terms and textbooks. Though the curriculum applied is the same in all nine provinces, the individual textbooks may differ from time to time.
Public schools need to adhere to the Bill of Rights for children to provide basic education in the mother language of the child. The government therefore established schools in all 11 official languages spoken in South Africa.
School are divided into primary schools from Grade R to Grade 7 and high schools that provide from Grade 8 up to Grade 12.
Though funded by the government, a public school may still have a Parent and Teacher Association deciding on internal school regulations not affected by the government. This may include school rules and school hours.
The main idea behind a private school is that it is privately funded, either by private companies, or by parents. Private schools are becoming increasingly popular as parents have more control over the education of their children.
Private schools still have to adhere to the curriculum stipulated by the government, but the content of the subjects may be adjusted to suit the vision and mission of the individual school.
Private schools often provide the full term of schooling from Grade R to Grade 12 in one school. This is beneficial to the attending child to avoid confusion when they have to adapt to a mainstream school after being in a private school for many years.
Another form of private education is home schooling and distance education. These two options follow the same principal where you order your curriculum material and have it delivered to your home. You study at your own pace, but need to write the prescribed exams by the indicated dates in order to qualify for your certificate of completing the grade.
These options are also becoming increasingly popular as children can study in the safety of their own homes and can spend more time with their caregiver at home.