Under apartheid the education system was racially structured with separate national departments for whites, Coloureds, Asians, and blacks. Although government spending on black education increased greatly in the late 1980s, at the end of the apartheid era in 1994 per capita expenditures for white pupils were still four times higher than expenditures for blacks. Black schools had fewer classrooms than white schools, shortages of textbooks were common, and few schools had science laboratories of any kind. As a result, only about 40 percent of black candidates passed matriculation (the qualification for completing secondary school, a minimum requirement for entrance to a university) in the early 1990s. At the same time, at least 1.5 million school-age blacks were not in school.
The challenge of restructuring education in post-apartheid society was immense. The post-apartheid government merged 14 education departments into a unified education system with no racial distinctions. School attendance is now compulsory for children ages 7 through 15. The number of private schools, attended largely by whites, increased dramatically in the mid-1990s as public schools were integrated. South Africa’s literacy rate grew from 82 percent in 1995 to 88 percent in 2007.
South Africa has a well-developed higher education system, which was also racially segregated until after apartheid. Numbers of blacks in historically white universities grew rapidly after 1994, even in Afrikaans-language universities.
Most black students, however, attend historically black universities, including the University of Fort Hare (founded in 1916) in Alice, North-West University (1980) in Mmabatho, and the University of Zululand (1960) near Empangeni. Some blacks take correspondence courses through the University of South Africa in Pretoria (1873). The University of the Western Cape (1960) in Bellville was historically Coloured, and Durban-Westville (1961) in Durban was historically Indian. Traditionally white universities include the English-speaking University of Cape Town (founded as the South African College in 1829; attained university status in 1918) in Cape Town, the University of the Witwatersrand (1922) in Johannesburg, the University of Natal (1910) in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, and Rhodes University (1904) in Grahamstown. Afrikaans-speaking universities include the University of the Orange Free State (1855) in Bloemfontein, the University of Pretoria (1930; founded in 1908 as Transvaal University College), and the University of Stellenbosch (1918).
The University of Port Elizabeth (1964) in Port Elizabeth uses both English and Afrikaans. In 2002 the government announced a restructuring of higher education in South Africa. The restructuring involved a series of mergers that reduced the number of institutions in the country. For example, the merger of Rand Afrikaans University, Technikon Witwatersrand, and two campuses of Vista University formed the new University of Johannesburg (opened in 2005). "South Africa" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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