More black people are getting educated, shows Stats SA study

As South Africa commemorates 30 years of democracy, a transformative shift in the education landscape emerges, heralding newfound opportunities and achievements for historically marginalised communities.

On Tuesday, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) released a groundbreaking report titled Census 2022: A Profile of Education Enrolment, Attainment, and Progression in South Africa, unveiling unprecedented growth in enrolment rates and educational attainment across all levels.

The report underscores a remarkable decline in the percentage of individuals aged 25 years and older with only primary education or less, dropping from about 57.9% in 1996 to 22.2% in 2022.


Notable jump in attainment of tertiary education

Stats SA reported that there has been a substantial increase in the attainment of secondary and tertiary education among black people.

The percentage of individuals with secondary education more than tripled from 9.4% in 1996 to 34.7% in 2022, while tertiary education attainment surged, with the gaps between coloured and black people closing.

“The observed increase in tertiary education attainment among both genders indicates a positive trend towards greater access to and participation in higher education,” according to the report.

“The narrowing of the gender gap is particularly noteworthy as it signifies progress towards gender equality in educational opportunities and outcomes.

“Women’s increased representation in tertiary education reflects efforts to address historical disparities and promote inclusive educational policies.”

According to Stats SA, the percentage of females surpassing males in tertiary qualifications in 2022 marked a significant improvement from 1996, when only 6.7% of females and 8.6% of males had obtained tertiary education.


Disparities remain

Although improvements have been made in bridging the gender gap in educational opportunities, Stats SA warns that disparities remain, especially at the level of advanced degrees such as master’s and doctoral programmes.

Men continue to outnumber women in pursuing higher education, despite females slightly surpassing males in holding bachelor’s degrees in 2022.

“Notably, in 1996, males comprised a larger proportion of bachelor’s degree holders compared to females.

“This pattern changed over time, with the percentage of female bachelor’s degree holders slightly surpassing that of males in 2022.”

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