South Africa has one of the most unequal school systems in the world, as measured by test scores. The gap between the top 20% of achievers and the rest of the students paints a picture of an elitist school system characterized by crumbling infrastructure, overcrowded classrooms and relatively poor educational outcomes.
The education system in South Africa runs from grade 0 (“Reception”) to 12, with grades 10 to 12, being optional. 50% of children who start in Grade 1 never finish twelfth grade. Of black students, only 14% finish high school vs. 65% their white peers. Only 1 in 100 students will go on to graduate from college.
With a literacy rate hovering around 86%, unemployment in South Africa is 25%. Only 7% of people have graduate degrees and of those, 95% are employed (vs. 55% employment rate among people with high school degrees.) A third of South Africans live below the poverty line.
Those who can surmount the odds and get to college are often hampered by the burden of financial challenges, find it difficult to focus on their studies, and are more likely to drop out, perpetuating the cycle of poverty.
Our Representative in South Africa
in South Africa
Fiona Jamal Almeida
Fiona is the Founder and Executive Director of ‘Small Acts for Sustainability’, a non-profit formed to empower girls and women from marginalized communities through education, menstruation hygiene and mental health. She is also a Director at the ‘Resilient Sisterhood Project’, a Boston based non-profit focused on the female reproductive health, and a faculty member at Urban College.
Fiona is passionate about Global Healthcare, Gender Equality and the intersection of Culture and Identity. Enjoying a richly textured background, she has held various positions at Wellesley College and Harvard Smithsonian, run a South African networking group in Massachusetts, and done research on the Indian Ocean Diaspora and the reverse migration between India and Africa.
Fiona holds a Master of Public Policy from Tufts University. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College with a double major in Anthropology and Africana Studies.
Originally from Durban, South Africa, Fiona now resides in Marlborough, MA with her husband.
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