SA bottom of African literacy list

SA bottom of African literacy list

2010-07-29 17:15

Johannesburg - South Africa is falling behind the rest of the continent in education and skills development, an economist said on Thursday.

"SA's role in Africa has declined significantly over the last 15 years," Azar Jammine of Econometrix told a joint World Bank and department of trade and industry briefing.

"We've followed the world, but not Africa when it comes to growth.

"A recent African Union study showed that we were bottom of the list in numeracy and literacy compared with other African

This, Jammine said, was eroding the country's competitive ability.

A lot of power in the country was concentrated in organised labour movements and this made business unwilling to take on more

"Look at the Quarterly Labour Force Survey that came out on Tuesday. We are producing fewer and fewer new jobs and this to me
is a crisis situation. We have to ask why we are not creating jobs in spite of economic growth."

Far too much power lay in the so-called  golden triangle consisting of the government and parastatals, the labour movements
and big business.

"South Africa pays mere lip service to small enterprises and having most of the power in the golden triangle means the country doesn't have the resilience it ought to have."

Jammine said in the rest of Africa, the role of governments was decreasing and small business was allowed to thrive.

"Instead, South Africa sees more leadership by government." Fortunately the private sector was thriving as skills had migrated there from the public sector.

"But this is not enough as there is not sufficient small business activity."

The country did not encourage people to work for themselves. "Thriving small businesses actually create more jobs than bigger

Many councillors need adult training

Jammine said only two out of five adults were working and discouraged work seekers had increased over the past two years,
much of this due to a lack of education.

"Our education system is at the heart of unemployment... in fact you can see how close(ly) unemployment and qualifications are linked, as the degreed have a much lower level of unemployment."
Whites had a higher level of education and therefore higher employment levels, creating a "hugely skewed" income distribution which contributed towards crime."

While the average age of the country's civil engineers was 53, that of artisans was 55.

"This shows the danger that most of the people available to transfer skills are getting older and older and there won't be sufficient mentoring."

The worst examples of this could be seen at local government level.

"The SA Local Government Association has found that a third of councillors need adult education and training, and so there is an inability to deliver on services."

According to Jammine, the solution to the economy's problems would be education and skills training and the breaking up of the monopoly enjoyed by government, trade unions and big business.

"This would free up the economy and get more people involved."


  • Dana - 2010-07-29 17:38

    I don't even want to comment on this, it's just too depressing. Thank you ANC, for destroying this wonderful country we used to have. Hope you're happy now...

  • Bill Watson - 2010-07-29 17:40


  • Tom - 2010-07-29 17:44

    Yes and it will become just like the rest of Africa cause this Goverment is ripping us off with high taxes low education High wages for unskilled labour and so it goes on. I am glad to be closing my business after 20 years and laying off 12 staff. So lets see what you do now with creating employment Mr. Unions.

  • Joe - 2010-07-29 17:47

    And the department of labour wonders why transformation is slow. The sad part is that structural barriers to transformation will remain a valid defense should any company be taken to court over slow transformation yet the state is supposed to remove those barriers with effective policy. The EE act never defined who was accountable for the pool of available candidates, which is still the benchmark measure. If the pool is small, because education is failing, then the company can't be held accountable. So not only is EE failing due to the states own education failures, the opportunity to adapt to a more pragmatic policy is lost while the Labour Minister fights his petty battles in court, in cases he will lose because the structural barriers to transformation are a result of the state's failures. There is a better way but it will mean the ANC has to admit failure and ask for help. Either that or the voters wake up the charade that is ANC policy. Wanting something and knowing how to make it happen are two different things.

  • Pangea - 2010-07-29 17:47

    This we can thank the ANC government for!! Their idiotic approach to education and their lack of understanding of what education involves. Why not adopt the british education system, it has worked, it is accepted world wide and it is practical. Even old mad Bob in Zim realized this. This the reason why our illegal Zim immigrants do so well in south africa, because they are better educated than the locals. So before the ANC froths at the mouth again about BEE, SOUGHT THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM OUT, STUPID!!!

  • James - 2010-07-29 17:52

    This makes very interesting reading when viewed in conjunction with the article on Fin24 titled ‘Whites still dominate’. If one looks at the state of black education in the country then one can conclude that a major obstacle to the empowerment of the poor in the country is the shocking state of education that the majority of South Africans receive. With better education more and more poor people will be eligible to attend tertiary education and serve as a feeder into management thereby addressing the problem of ‘Whites still dominating’ business. It’s a no-brainer why whites still make up the majority of senior and middle management – education is the key. Until the government realises this and is serious about improving the state of education in this country then no amount of government legislation is going to increase the number of blacks in management. A fundamental overhaul of education is needed – its doesn’t matter if the government increases spending – teachers are not trained properly, go on strike way to often and are over-unionised. The government has had 16 years to improve the previous education system, its time to stop looking behind us and move forward. Certainly learn from the mistakes of the past but to keep on harping on this helps no-one move forward.

  • Leo - 2010-07-29 17:54

    The problem is that we apparently spend 20% of our country's budget on education. I work with a number of schools, and let me tell you it is far from the truth. I know of a government school where the roof of a classroom was blown off by strong winds over a year ago and it's still down... I know of children at the age of 15 that cannot read a basic sentence. How do we allow this? No wait, we must implement another outcomes based education system...that way...children will become more illiterate... Why not go back to a westernized system like in the past...Education of our Children are far more important than any colonial grudges we may have.

  • Baas'Boerseun - 2010-07-29 17:58

    Now we have agreement form the international community that RSA is ruled by people who do not have the needed skills or training and most probably never will have it. sad story, but then we are just another African country with a bad government.

  • marco - 2010-07-29 18:04

    I bet some people will says observation is racist.South Africa and by a large extent Cosatu spend all their time doing strikes here strikes there wanting the more money everywhere when they not even educated silly fools.They'd rather robbed,rape and murder people than get a decent education and when asked then they'll say they a victim of circumstance or it's the goverment to blame.The goverment at local level in particular are so corrupt rom top to bottom they don't give a toss about their VOTERS.All they after is to get into power but once there their people the majority of which are to stupid to realize they've been taken for a ride by Julias Malema an co.Jacob Zuma sais last year when campaining for power when in power he would slash the unemployment figure to 14% instead i's gone up to 25.3 percent since Zuma took over.This article is a sobering reminder that one party goverment,the ANC's,time is up you need a new form of goverment a better alternative to take South Africa forward like the DA for example see how they'd do if given an opportunity to be in power.Sobering article this is really.Wake up SA and smell the coffee don't be mindless fools that just follow's sweety,sweety empty promises of Zuma and the ANC.

  • dawie - 2010-07-29 18:13

    i have much respect for dr jammine. my frustration however is in the governments inability to get really serious about school education. they literally employ teachers who are not much better than the pupils they teach and in so doing simply jamlog the system by giving jobs out for the sake of jobs. now thousands of teachers get paid decent tax payers money for being poor at what they do and adding no real value. further kids need to get serious about education. go to school and learn. teachers teach. if you cant you must adapt very quickly or be fired - simple. be disciplined and be serious. this is why whites and indians are so far ahead in s.a because they (pupils, teachers an d parents) take it seriously. they also dont burn schols down or attack teachers or riot ot strike. notice the difference? our black south africans brothers can succeed too if they just stop striking to get what they want. collective bargaining and striking has a use when being abused. teachers are not being absued. in facy you are being over paid for what you are abusing us the taxpayers in this country. teachers pupils and parents have the will and need to stop blaming everyone else when they fall short of the mark.

  • Enoch - 2010-07-29 18:16

    Azar, you can talk until you are blue in the face, and the govt, unions and big business will not listen. Skills emigration has been a major problem and govt response has been to applaud this and pursue a flawed policy of tampering with a poor education system, eliminating apprenticeships and promoting jobs for cadres, labour inflexibility and the like. Shame, this could be a truly great country if it had great leaders!!!

  • TC - 2010-07-29 18:29

    as I have mentioned previously, goverment focus on AA, if all white jobs are given to blacks, only about 2 - 3 mil blacks will have those jobs, what about the rest? rather focus on education and let the market decide on jobs

  • ian - 2010-07-29 18:33

    Well when the idiots that rule this country come to their senses - they will have the shell of what they inherited, the richest most progressive country in Africa. What a shame!!!! They have taken an eductaion system that was fairly good and replaced it with a failed system, they have taken medical systems that were of the very best in the world and destroyed them, they have taken cities that were first world and reduced them to the African norm, they have taken the best electrical generation and distribution in the world and "switched" it off. They have done this simply because they wanted to immediately replace the experienced people with educated but inexperinced people. WHAT BLOODY FOOLS

  • Tjoppie - 2010-07-29 18:36

    Brilliant ANC. Remember YOU chased the school teachers away because of the pigmentation problem. The newspaper report that to many males, with the WRONG pigmentation, are still in management positions. The ANC, obviously, are very unhappy. Do you want me to appoint managers that can hardly read and/or write?

  • Bob is your uncle - 2010-07-29 18:43

    And do you know who tops the rankings??Our neighbors up North Zimbabwe, thats why we hire them for all the jobs. Come on SA, lets get educated, uurrgh.

  • ASHAMED - 2010-07-29 18:44

    This happened because the department of education takes political decisions in stead of looking at the bigger picture. It's so simple- Strike less, work more, enforce discipline and take responsibility. Knowing politicians there will again be another commitee, meeting etc where a lot will be said and nothing will be done, except wasting taxpayers money on food and drink.!!!

  • NNKE - 2010-07-29 18:45

    Not surprised, what I’ve noticed is that our government is "ran" by highly emotional individuals. It is sad because each time a new cabinet comes in; they want to change what was accomplished by the previous. I'm sorry to say, but all those officials in government where taught by a so called bad education in their view. The current Labour Force in our country average age 30 upwards went through the so called bad education. I for one I'm a professional engineer grown through the same system. Instead of improving what worked, emotions kicked in and tried all sort of????. This situation is spiraling out of control. Yes a lot has changed in the country or is better, but is sad to face the reality that gone are the days when moral values were the drive behind unity. Our education system is bad, I mean from grade zero all the way to post graduate. Hence the failing public sector, policing, roads, Heath system and many more....why? Because we do changes emotionally and not improving what works!!! gone are the days when people use to be proud of their trades, I remember back in my schooling days how wonderful was to hear my fellow school mates wanting to have certificate of competency. I mean those days when one had N6, was a great achievement indeed. Those were the days when we had olifantsfontein trade center. Is sad because skills we learned then are taken to grave by some. People learned basic skills in welding, house wiring, wood crafting and so on. I was proud to be called an apprentice and even today I remain proud because the skills I learned then cannot be taken away from me. I wish some less emotional government official could go back to the basic before some of us leave the world of the living with our skills. It WILL NOT HURT ANYONE TO INVITE OUR FELLOW OLD SCHOOL WHITE CITIZENS AND SO CALLED BANTU Education senior citizen and together improve on what worked before.....rather than trying to be western! Remember we will be doing this for the future of our children, the same our former elders...Phatudi, Mangope, Bantu Holomisa and many more did for us in those difficult circumstances. REMEMBER THE SAYING EASY COME EASY GO!!!!!

  • JW - 2010-07-29 19:48

    The question is this: could the ANC actually have done worse than this? To be the most illiterate state on the continent of Africa! That's as bad as it gets

  • chantal - 2010-07-29 20:27

    Mother tongue education is an ideal that is not practical when we end up with matrics who pass maths but whose english is so bad that no university will accept them. We must be competent in english to study anything, or we cannot demonstrate our understanding to the examiners.

  • Es - 2010-07-29 20:32

    I recently saw an African immigrant berating his local employees sitting on the back of the bakkie. Unfortunately, it appears that the new "baas" in South Africa will be from the rest of our continent, not locals.

  • Obvious - 2010-07-29 22:47

    The government didn't bother with HIV (a deadly virus). What makes you think they'll bother with education?

  • greg - 2010-07-30 03:36

    Has someone ever bothered to research why, after all the carnage there for the last 10 years, Zimbabwe STILL tops the rankings? FACT

  • Wawa - 2010-07-30 06:38

    "Jammine said only two out of five adults were working and discouraged work seekers had increased over the past two years, much of this due to a lack of education." Could be education, but then go onto a website like Pnet and see all the 'BEE only' positions. I have a good education but wasn't able to find a job for six months after my last contract expired because I am not 'BEE', so I left the country - GOOD WORK ANC!!! Chase all the skilled people away

  • Jakes - 2010-07-30 07:36

    The problem is that the ANC, in a vicious attempt to "purge" the White sctructures, threw the baby out with the bath-water. Out went the apprentice artisan system, in came minimum wage and SETA. Out went probation positions, and in came guaranteed promotion. Out went technical schools and in came the failed SETA system. Out went government make-work systems and processes, and in came unions and cronyism. Out went internal works departments and in came outsource contracts. The list goes on and on and on, and the nett sum is that we are constantly losing tax money to a privileged few at the expense of the whole country. Our mining rights have been sold to overseas companies, and government indeed doesn't give a damn for the SMMEs either. Why? Because it better to do it the ANC way than to admit that maybe, just MAYBE, the whites knew a LITTLE bit about running a country. So now they have closed 50% of all hospitals, and suddenly we have a health resource problem. Hey? Am I the only one who finds this ironic?

  • Jaffel - 2010-07-30 07:41

    ANC just wants black empowerment... NOW. They dont care how it happens. They just want to swing a magic wand and make it happen. Idiots. It starts with education. Not forcing uneducated people into the ranks.

  • Lee - 2010-07-30 08:07

    We used to be one of the best in the world in terms of education and now we're one of the worst. There you have it - proof that the ANC is useless. I'd hazard a guess that the same sad story would apply to healthcare too. We had so much potential as a country at the dawn of democracy but it's fading fast. Labour's strangehold on the economy has got to be curtailed. People have to learn to look after the jobs they have. I do not agree with the right to strike for anyone. If you don't like your job or you think your salary is unfair then move on and get another job. If you can't get another job, then be thankful for the one you have.

  • webb - 2010-07-30 08:12

    Billions spent on education - yet we're scrapping the bottowm of the African barrel. Quite pathetic and should be an endless embarrasment to our ANC government. instead they would rather shift blame elsewhere. intensify efforts to brow beat companies into ever more rediculous "equity targets", strikes, threats etc - net results fewer and fewer jobs as people only employ as an absolute last resort. The so called "golden triangle" can't or won't see it - yet the figures on job creation don't lie

  • DIe Bongz - 2010-07-30 08:21

    @Tom and the rest. 20 years of business, 12 staff and still no skills transfer? ANC has got nothing on you guys.

  • Duke - 2010-07-30 08:38

    And the ANC led government is shocked that whites continue to be employed in senior positions! What do they expect? Wake up ANC - the white workforce is aging, they cannot carry the load forever. EDUCATE THE YOUTH NOW OR WE ARE DOOMED IMPORTING EXPORTS (like the WCS projects) & EXPORTING OUR RANDS!

  • Bas - 2010-07-30 08:46

    Does Zuma ever get to read articles like this ??? He should .......

  • William - 2010-07-30 08:52

    wow, this is shocking. I knew that education was a problem, but to be the worst in Africa?

  • rich - 2010-07-30 08:59

    Is anyone listening? Doubt it - reality seems to escape the powers that be. I am involved in education and when I look at how procurement is done (wastage, connected big business etc.) I am not surprised we have regressed. Corruption is endemic and the usual scapegoat will be blamed.

  • magtigemoer - 2010-07-30 09:10

    LOL and they wonder why the following headline occures "EE report slams 'unyielding' employers". Would you employee someone who can even read properly

  • Basie - 2010-07-30 09:18

    Over the last 15 Years,????????????? How long has the ANC been in power, but you can clearly see it in the "leaders" of this copuntry

  • leon - 2010-07-30 10:36

    After reading all the comments and the current problems at present eg. mine water pollution i am now sure that the ANC do not have the skills/education to run our country on a proactive way. They only respond when the shit hits the fan

  • E - 2010-07-30 11:00


  • Fair Deal - 2010-07-30 11:21

    The government needs to encourage learnership programs in state enterprises,and make funding available from the IDC for the top graduates to encourage then to start their own business. They should group financial and technical persons to ensure the sucsess of the venture.

  • @ Bas - 2010-07-30 11:27

    No, JZ cannot comprehend these type of articles, its too high level for him. Earlier this week News 24 published an article about investors looking at Nigeria & Kenya as investment opportunities. Now we know why.

  • academic - 2010-07-30 12:09

    Its all because of a little policy called OBE, also known as OUT GOING BASIC EDUCATION

  • Motala - 2010-07-30 21:54

    Education is not just the quality of teachers & their dedication to their job, but the dedication of the learner as well to wanting to learn. Indian South African pupils pre 1994 did'nt have the best of facilities at their disposal, however we perservered to achieve success and never once expected favours on our plate. Not the attitude of ENTITLEMENT.Furthermore, we never burnt down centres of learning or study materials, as we knew that this is where of sucess & wealth is & we respected this, as inferior as it was. Now i'm not saying dont engage or fight for rights but use your BRAINS if any left.

  • motala - 2010-07-30 22:03

    Thats the thing about RSA. Keep your people stupid, then you can easily exploit them, entice them to a stupid ball game, give them a noise maker VUVUZELA to take out their frustration & energy & inturn milk them & the country dry.

  • Renier - 2010-08-04 22:49

    We saw it coming, hence we decided to take responsibility for the future employment and competitiveness of our nation and got involved with schools without payment and also started to develop entrepreneurs, (whites, blacks, coloured, etc). Come on South Africans, take responsibility for the future of your nation without seeking any position, by starting with those on your doorstep. We decided not to put up high fences around our property, so that we can empower those beggars, who want to be empowered and guess such man took up the challenge and 9 months later, he already had his second business, employing some people and could afford to buy his own bakkie simply cost me R750 and time every Friday to mentor and coach him in sound business practices. You and I make this nation work!!! Where the spirit of empowerment is at work, there is hope for our nation.

  • Scott - 2010-08-10 12:39

    @Renier, hopefully you're still reading this. Please check out and contact me if it's of any interest. I'd love to hear more about what you're doing and share some information with you. You really have the right spirit that I think everyone here needs to adopt. If we all sit back and wait for government (ANC or otherwise) to dig us out of the mess that 100 years of bad policy created, we're going to be sorely disappointed. It's up to us, just as it always has been.

  • peter - 2011-01-15 16:47

    the percent of literacy in ghana

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