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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Problems of Education in the 21st Century
Title The Challenges Faced by Education in Solving the Unemployment Problem in South Africa?
Author(s)
Volume 42
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
Page numbers 82-96
URL http://www.scientiasocialis.lt/pec/files/pdf/vol42/82-96.Nieuwenhuis_Vol.42.pdf
Abstract
This study is based on a meta-interpretive research design aimed at finding possible answers to an
enduring dilemma facing South Africa. South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the
world, higher even than those of most of the emerging economies. The structural analysis of unemployment
in South Africa presented in this article suggests the existence of an extremely high incidence of youth
unemployment, in an environment where certain high level skills are in short supply. The author first
analyses the structural nature of the unemployment problem in South Africa and then posit the conundrum
of unemployment amidst a serious skills shortage. The skill shortage is discussed in terms of some of the
current and projected needs of the economy. The question arises as to why education cannot produce the
type of skills needed in the quantity and quality expected to satisfy the needs of the economy and thereby
aid economic growth and development. To answer this question, the author analyses the education system
pointing out certain systemic problems that work against the production of the kind of skilled workers of
the quality and quantity needed. He starts by showing the poor literacy and numeracy levels of primary
school children compared to children in other countries. Secondly, the author shows how large numbers
of learners drop out of the school system and how those who complete the twelve years of schooling end
up with low achievement levels in the subject areas that could have offered them the skills and knowledge
to capitalize on the skills shortage. Finally, he looks at the post-school system and its failure to produce
the required high level skills. Based on the analysis presented, the author comes to the conclusion that
education in its current shape and form will not solve the unemployment problem in South Africa

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