Cape Town - International assistance is crucial for education in developing countries, President Jacob Zuma
told the UN Secretary General's Global Education First Initiative this week.
In a prepared speech to the high-level roundtable at the UN headquarters in New York, Zuma said the provision of quality education to all is one of the key priorities of the South African government.
"Access to quality education and training enhances a developing country's ability to address poverty eradication, promote job creation and improve other socio-economic challenges," said Zuma. However, this requires funding.
"When the new democratically elected government was inaugurated in 1994 in South Africa, it was faced with the challenge of integrating 15 departments of education into a single education system, a legacy of racial segregation," he said.
"The principles that were key to determining funding of the education system were access, equality and redress."
He admitted that much still has to be done, although there has been significant progress in making education accessible to all.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme, which only charges interest on student loans 12 months after a student has graduated or left university, is an example of an initiative which is making a great difference.
Funding for student loans at universities has increased from R2.2bn in 2010 benefiting 148 387 students, to R3.6bn in 2013 targeting 210 000 students.
"Students from poor households receive full bursaries from the state to attend further education and training colleges to expand access to education," Zuma said.
"Investment in Further Education and Training College bursaries has increased from R318m in 2010, benefitting 61 703 students, to R1.9bn in 2013, targeting 222 817 financially needy students."
Zuma expressed his appreciation for what he called a second important component of funding of education, namely the private sector, which has built a number of schools.
Follow Fin24 on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.