A visiting scholar at the Mzala Nxumalo Centre for African Society, Dr Ingrid Bamberg, presented her research at UKZN’s School of Education under the title: “Schools as Centres of Community Life: Social Link and Social Issues Arising from Education Decentralisation in South Africa”.
Based on an empirical study she conducted among primary schools in a semi-rural community in KwaZulu-Natal, Bamberg discussed conditions of access to quality education.
‘Post-apartheid South Africa set as a major principle the right and the access for all to free and quality basic education. Yet too many children still do not have access to quality education,’ said Bamberg.
Bamberg questioned the coherence of the educational policy and highlighted obstacles to social justice and equity.
In her research, she gathered evidence on how access inequalities occur within a locality.
‘If all the children theoretically have the right to access quality education, only those from high socio-professional origin have effective access to it. Poor children remain disadvantaged and, de facto, social discrimination still takes place.’
According to Bamberg, the statistical approach of the educational policy, mainly based on demographic rather than on socio-economic variables, neglects major issues involved in the measure of access to quality education for all.
‘A comprehensive approach towards schooling practices would prevent dissociating schools from their social environment and account for their role and influence on social dynamics, such as parents and schools strategies, which need to be understood in order to reach effective access to quality education for all.’