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South African education returns to basics

Andrew Harding | 13:16 UK time, Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The newspapers here are full of good-riddance obituaries today - for the country's long, unpopular experiment with something called Outcomes Based Education, or OBE - the cornerstone of primary and secondary teaching across South Africa.

When it was launched, 12 years ago, OBE was seen as a bold, ambitious riposte to the old apartheid system of Bantu education, which condemned black students to inferior schooling. But OBE itself proved to be politicised and unrealistic. It failed to take proper account of the realities of the new South Africa and assumed, for instance, that pupils would have access to telephones, the internet, libraries and so on.

As this article reveals, under the OBE system, every year a million children have dropped out of school and more than five million have finished their education unable to read or write adequately. South Africa may have just pulled off a triumphant World Cup, but those statistics are cause for real alarm. It's good the government has finally recognized that.

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