Where We Work

South Africa may be an upper middle-income country, but it is also ranked by the World Bank Poverty and Inequality Platform as the most unequal country in the world, ahead of 161 countries including Congo, Nepal and Iraq. A 2020 report by Amnesty International further notes that it has “one of the most unequal school systems in the world [and] a child’s experience of education still very much depends on where they are born, how wealthy they are, and the colour of their skin.” 

The schools KHULA Education supports are situated in South Africa’s uMzinyathi District, one of the poorest areas of the country, where the average household survives on just R14,600 (£600) a year. 

These communities are also extremely rural, with children as young as three having to walk many kilometres every day just to get to school. Compounded by poor infrastructure and a chronic lack of government investment in education, the result is that local children have been held back by a system that is not fit for purpose, with issues including:

  • Disproportionately high pupil-teacher ratios, with a single teacher sometimes managing a class of over 90 students;
  • High levels of teacher absenteeism due to stress-related illness and a lack of support;
  • Schools without modern facilities to prepare students for further study and work – it was only two years ago, for example, that KHULA was able to get 21 local schools connected to Wi-Fi;
  • Poor student performance and high rates of school drop-out.

uMzinyathi district also suffers from massive unemployment rates of around 80% – more than double the national average, with youth disproportionately affected. The reasons for this are many and complicated, but analysts cite an education system that does little to prepare students for the workplace as part of the problem.

Working in partnership with existing government-run schools and local leadership, KHULA Education is sustainably tackling these challenges and levelling the playing field for rural South African children and young people.

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