BlackFacts Details

School Enrollment in Apartheid South Africa

It is well known that one of the fundamental differences between the experiences of Whites and Blacks in Apartheid era South Africa was education. Whilst the battle against enforced education in Afrikaans was eventually won, the Apartheid governments Bantu education policy meant that Black children did not receive the same opportunities as White children.

The above table gives data for school enrollment of Whites and Blacks in South Africa in 1982. The data highlights significant differences between the schooling experiences between the two groups, but additional information is needed before you carry out an analysis.

Using data from South Africas 1980 census1, roughly 21% of the White population and 22% of the Black population were enrolled in school. Differences in population distributions, however, mean that there were Black children of school age not enrolled in school.

The second fact to consider is the difference in government spending on education. In 1982 the Apartheid government of South Africa spent an average of R1,211 on education for each White child, and only R146 for each Black child.

The quality of teaching staff also differed – roughly a third of all White teachers had a university degree, the rest had all passed the Standard 10 matriculation exam. Only 2.3% of Black teachers had a university degree, and 82% had not even reached the Standard 10 matriculation (more than half had not reached Standard 8). Education opportunities were heavily skewed towards preferential treatment for Whites.

Finally, although the overall percentages for all scholars as part of the total population is the same for Whites and Blacks, the distributions of enrollment across school grades is completely different.

1 There were approximately 4.5 million Whites and 24 million Blacks in South Africa in 1980.

The above graph shows the relative proportions of school enrollment across the different school grades (years). It was permissible to leave school at the end of Standard 8, and you can see from the graph that there