The state of youth: Trends in education attainment

by SHEPPARD, C, 2009
Research Report. Centre for Poverty Employment and Growth, Human Sciences Research Council

Sheppard provides an overview of the education attainment of the youth in South Africa. He focuses on the 18–24 and 25–35 age cohorts, but also briefly reviews trends in the participation of younger age groups in primary and secondary education, given the impact of their participation rate and education attainment on the youth. The paper reviews relevant aspects of the current education policy, considers the major achievements of the education system, and identifies areas that still need attention to ensure that all South Africans have access to a quality education. This paper is arranged as follows: it first considers the policy environment, and then reviews trends in participation rates in early childhood development and in primary and secondary education. Special attention is given to gender parity indices. The next sections review trends in dropout rates and in the Senior Certificate examination results. This is followed by an analysis of the evidence for participation in further education and training, the data on post-school participation in education, trends in the proportion of youth studying, and the highest level of educational attainment of 18–24 and 25–34-year-olds. Finally, the paper discusses the concerns of the most marginalised group, namely youths that are neither working nor studying.