In South Africa the education follows a 7-2-3 system, where the primary school lasts for 7 years, the secondary school for 2 years and the secondary school for 3 years. According to UNESCO, 11% of the population over 15 years were illiterate in 2007.
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The official school starting age is 7 years, and both primary and secondary school are compulsory. From 1998, a national curriculum was gradually introduced focusing on the skills the students will master in the various steps. In primary school, basic knowledge and skills in language and mathematics are emphasized. Emphasis is placed on systematic assessment of pupils. Primary and lower secondary school can be followed by 2 and 3-year upper secondary education in study and vocational preparatory subjects. Higher education is offered by many different institutions.
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In 1997, a national system for higher education was established. The country has 23 universities and a number of colleges.
The University of Cape Town is the nation’s oldest university and was founded as early as 1828. Five former Nobel laureates have studied at the University, and in 1967 the world’s first heart transplant took place at the University Hospital.
South Africa flag source: Countryaah.com
Until the early 1990s, the educational system in South Africa was strongly influenced by racial segregation policy. There were three different educational systems: one for the whites, one for the Africans and one for the colored (the blend group and Indians), which was administered by 19 different central authorities with very uneven resource allocation.
Since 1994, comprehensive reforms have been implemented with the dismantling of the apartheid system and the development of a national education system at all levels. In the 1996 Constitution, access to free education is a right for everyone. From 1995, education is subject to one national Ministry of Education. Education is a high priority area for the ANC to equalize the large social and economic differences between the ethnic groups.
1899 Boer Wars
Coexistence between the Boers and the British Crown ended in 1867, when large deposits of diamonds were discovered in the Transvaal. When it became clear that the area was of great economic and strategic value, England proposed the creation of a federation between the Cape Province and the two free states. The Boers rejected the proposal, and in 1899 war broke out. The English gained support from most of its colonies and the Boers were supported by Germany. The Boer War ended after 3 years, when the Boers surrendered, accepting British supremacy, but with some form of autonomy in its territories. 50,000 Africans had been killed and twice the number were in British concentration camps.
The victory of the English was at the same time a defeat for the agricultural-based economy of the Transvaal and Oranje. From then on, the mining industry became the most economically important sector. White workers and technicians flocked to South Africa, with approx. 25,000 annually in the period 1890-1910. The European population both increased and changed character: from farmers to capital owners, business people and skilled workers. With the strategic role of gold, South Africa became embedded in the capitalist world system.
The peace agreement was characterized by the desire for reconciliation and amalgamation within the white population, with British mining capital and the more prosperous part of the Boers setting out the preconditions for the South African Union established in 1910. The Boer generals L. Botha and J.-C. Smuts became the first prime ministers and symbolized that political leadership was initially placed in the hands of the peasant bourgeoisie.
South Africa’s foreign policy
South African foreign policy has an obvious distinction at the introduction of democracy and the regime change in 1994. From being internationally isolated, South Africa gradually became an integral part of the world community, and from being in principle excluded from African cooperation, South Africa became a political and economic momentum on the continent. Conversely, under apartheid, South Africa was a major concern in African and international politics, with widespread condemnation and – gradually – increasing international sanctions against the regime.
Since 1994, the ANC government has pursued an active and independent foreign policy. Above all, foreign policy has gained a clear African focus, as well as strengthened contact with other countries in the south. Particular emphasis is placed on developing close relations with the countries of southern Africa, both because of the shared history of the struggle against apartheid and to strengthen regional integration. Central to this cooperation is the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional association, which South Africa joined in 1994, while cooperation within the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) has continued. In 1994, South Africa was resumed in the Commonwealth of Nations, the same year it joined The African Unity Organization (OAU), now the African Union (AU) – where South Africa chaired 2003-2004. In 1994, South Africa also joined the South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone, and signed a declaration to make the South Atlantic a nuclear weapons-free zone.
In 2001, President Thabo Mbeki and South Africa were among the proponents of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) – a new foundation for cooperation on African development in the new millennium, in line with a policy of an African Renaissance promoted by Mbeki, which pursued an active foreign policy and placed great emphasis on strengthening African relations, politically, economically and culturally. In 2004, the AU decided to place its pan-African parliament in South Africa, a sign of the country’s new and strong political position on the continent. South Africa chaired the Alliance Free States Movement in the period 1998–2002.
South Africa’s relationship with the rest of Africa has also been characterized by South Africa’s strong emphasis on consensus and desire for cooperation. This has often led South Africa to be unwilling to take positions that may be perceived as controversial by other African leaders. At the same time, South Africa’s relationship is characterized by South Africa’s strong role as an investor and trading partner in parts of the continent. In recent years, riots and harassment of African immigrants to South Africa have created new problems for South Africa’s relations with the rest of Africa.
South Africa was one of 51 countries that founded the United Nations in 1945, but was suspended in 1974 because of apartheid policy. The UN supported the fight against apartheid and imposed sanctions on the regime, while the two liberation organizations ANC and PAC gained observer status. In May 1994, the UN Security Council repealed the last remaining sanctions, the arms embargo, and the country was allowed to resume its participation in UN agencies; the new government places great emphasis on multilateralism and actively participates in the work of the UN. South Africa was a member of the UN Security Council for the first time in 2007-2008. During the transitional period between apartheid and democracy, the UN deployed a smaller observer group, the UN Observer Mission in South Africa (UNOMSA), to assist in dealing with the political violence in the country.
Conflict resolution and peacekeeping operations
As a regional and continental power, expectations of South Africa have also been set in the area of conflict resolution and peace efforts. Former President Nelson Mandela was thus active, among other things, in trying to find a solution to the conflict in Burundi. Later South Africa has been active mediators and in the conflicts in Congo (Zaire), Ivory Coast, Comoros, Lesotho, Madagascar, South Sudan and Zimbabwe. South Africa has made a strong contribution to military, police and civilian operations in several UN peacekeeping operations.
In 1997, South Africa established diplomatic relations with China, at the expense of Taiwan. China, as in other parts of Africa, has established close economic relations with South Africa. China is today South Africa’s most important trading partner and a major investor in the country.