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As I write this article, education in South Africa is in real crisis. The school as a learning organisation does not exist in a vacuum; it should be seen as part of larger society. Much has changed in within the education system in South Africa since the advent of our democratic government. Central to the changes is a compelling need for the redefinition of education itself. Education is shaped by society while it is simultaneously shapes society. The system of Basic Education has passed through a period of rapid transformation. The educational environment of the new social order is radically different from that of the past decades. This difference has become more prominent in the education system over the past twenty-nine crucial years. Change is not static but dynamic. According to Harding (1995:1), the turbulent educational landscape is messy and unpredictable and creates a tension between stability and the unknown. There remain many issues unresolved that require urgent attention within the education system with the view to find solutions. Currently, there is a huge disjuncture between the system of education and the demands of labour market, which are imperative for education and social change.

Against this background, the objective of this article is to highlight the educational challenges specifically within South African schools. The changes that were ushered by democracy indicate how enduring change can significantly influence the system of education. The second purpose of this article is to draw attention to the national policy makers of the day that it has now become a competing prerequisite to overhaul the entire educational system. In my view, schools must be, changed to become effective and dynamic sites of learning and teaching. Education must foster a learning climate that encourages questions, feedback, experimentation and passion for continuous growth and development. An effective system of education needs to produce students with appropriate skills and knowledge that will enable them to gain a competitive edge, and enhance their standing in today’s global competition. Fundamentally, every learning institution is unique and thus needs to adapt continuously to produce critical thinkers. It seems to me that this may not possibly happen unless the system of education is radically transformed to meet to the rapidly changing global environments.

Evidently, therefore, the challenges facing the current crop of learners and students alike are more complex and multi-faceted which require well-calculated strategies. At the heart of the challenges is that the present education lacks quality, there are various factors that contribute towards these, which require urgent solutions.  Unfortunately, unequal provision of economic and human resources including the physical infrastructure, lack of media centres, science laboratories and computers continues unabated. This scenario emanates from the fact that historically disadvantaged black schools are suffering similar crisis in the new dispensation. The provision of these learning facilities is extremely essential in order to address the challenges. Within the context of South Africa, changes in the education system are closely bound up with wider social and political changes. Education is never neutral, that is why it can bring about social change. The system of education in South Africa must be completely overhauled. Fundamentally, the philosophy of education must be adapted to suit the new democratic dispensation. The system of education requires radical reforms, innovations, new technologies, and possible ways of coping with these issues through new strategies. Largely, this will depend on the will and commitment of the present policy makers and other relevant stakeholders. The government of the day needs an effective enduring desire, the passion and compassion to make positive impacts on the social changes.  


Extensive research reveals that high dropout rate are recorded wherein primary school learners leave school much earlier and thus fall into illiteracy. Most learners in these grades do not reach beyond Grade 7 and become a lost generation. Again, the vast majority are found amongst black communities. Those who are promoted to Grade 8 seem to be unable to comprehend what they read or write. The alarming dropout rate requires substantial political policy, courage, and organisation.  Unemployment by the majority of the black parents and unskilled labourers is also a contributory factor because a vast majority of particularly black learners cannot access education .The quality of teaching and learning within our primary schools leaves much to be desired especially in mathematics and science .Ironically, the issue of competence in these subjects in South Africa has shown that a major weakness lies within teacher’s content knowledge .In this regard; many teachers possess insufficient foundational knowledge to enable to teach effectively. Taylor and Vinelvold (1999; 142 ) state that this acts as a major inhibit to teaching and learning in the classroom .Evidently, there should be radical training and retraining programmes that will focus on developing the competencies required in the workforce especially in these fields of the curriculum. The country seriously requires teacher development in academic and professional upgrade, those who will be future focused and be able to prepare learners that will be ready to meet the challenges facing the country. There is a dire need for a national policy to implement a programme of upgrading academic and professional qualifications, growth and development that will address the challenges the turbulence and the scarcity of required skills  

Notwithstanding the remarkable changes in South Africa since the inception of the new dispensation in 1994, the country’s education is still confronted with serious challenges in many of our public institutions especially those in historically black areas. Education is, indeed, a terrain for competing political, economic and ideological interests. To a great, extend these aspects form a large scale either of factors that affect positively or negatively to the nature of society. The type of management leadership in our learning institutions is one of the significant challenges. Given the complexity of our education system and the environment in which it exists, a new kind of leadership and management is urgently required. There is a dire need for committed educational leaders who can manage schools during these times of chaos, flux, uncertainty and complexity.   Leadership and management need to be given equal prominence if schools are to operate effectively to achieve their objectives. Our schools desperately need effective educational leadership that can manage within their new the quality and rapidly changing environment and responsibilities those who can add value to the quality of education. The quality of teaching and moral force or character is a compelling prerequisite.


In Conclusion, the many challenges that continue to exist in the majority of our schools must be urgently addressed. The challenges must be conceived as critical issues that require urgent attention to be resolved within schools by individuals, teams and society as a whole. They pose enormous challenges for society and will probably continue in future.  It is imperative that political and economic forces, which shape educational decisions, be changed before our education is expected to be transformed. Every school’s vision must address the mismatch between what they are teaching. The strategic plans and national policies must form the base for viability and meaningful change. The school management and leadership must therefore, continuously strive to improve the working conditions within schools. There should be quality teaching and learning embedded in the strategic focus of every institution. Continuous development and learning needs to create a strategic alignment with and atonement to local and global competition. Unless the state of the current education system is radically transformed, the future of South Africa is going to remain bleak, which will be absurd. The operative words in this article are change, acceleration and adaptation.   


                                                                                   I thank you!

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