« Go Back



The three tier education system is a schooling structure where pupils are taught in three distinct types of schools. This is done based on the abilities and interests of students. The department of basic education aims to prepare students to become entrepreneurs. To establish business markets and create jobs through this three tiered education system.
Mr Mathanzima Mweli, director-general of the department of basic education has devised a plan that is to be implemented in 58 schools in 2017. These schools have been divided into three streams, according to individual strengths and weakness.
1.       Academic stream - would remain as is because the majority of the country’s schools are academic schools.
2.       Technical vocational stream – gearing students into becoming artisan and masters in certain trades
3.       Technical occupational stream – consist of 26 subjects (spray painting, penal beating, hairdressing, wood & glass work, welding, husbandry etc.)
Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS) Professor Jonathan Jansen, obtained his BSc from UWC in the mid-1970s. An internationally renowned expert in education. In 2009 he was the first black Rector and Vice-Chancellor appointed in UFS’s history. In a podcast interview by 702's Azania Mosaka on Monday 18 January 2016 raised the following:

These are some of the issues raised by Prof Jonathan Jansen

1.       How we are testing talent isn’t itself problematic.
2.       How do we know that we are testing talent and capability as oppose to lack of opportunity our children are faced with?

My personal view is:

In South Africa it might not be called a three tier learning system but we have 3 divisions, namely the rural, government and private school. To receive quality education, according to the constitution, is a right and not based on individual strengths and weakness. There is a lack of opportunity for children in the rural school as opposed to those in private schools. Both these categories of children have the same capabilities to do well.
South African education is faced with an increase of bad, failure and dropout rates. The quality of education is so weak and the education department denies that we are faced with a problem. In regards to the dropout rate it is estimated to be between 15.3% and 20% as stated in the city press interview by Sipho Masondo.
I feel that the education department is not focused on retaining, or in other words, they are not working hard enough to encourage children to stay in school and get good quality education. We require a government that is more involved when it comes to the education of the children of South Africa.

Education is not only about the quality of education the children receives. The education department needs to get it right from the start of the foundation phase up until a child matriculates.  They are struggling to get quality teachers. Furthermore, they are not doing enough to make teaching an attractive career field. This in return leads to a lack of opportunity to give individual attention to each and every child in a classroom. One must argue that there is nothing wrong with the young people in South Africa, however the assumption that you have to do something to compensate for the fact that a child is of a different ethnic group is not correct. All children have the capability and potential to do well. The potential of a child can only be groomed and polished through individual attention. Teachers along with the education department need to work hand in hand to identify what needs to change when it comes to providing quality education for the children of South Africa.

The problem is that the education department are systematically down grading the education standards of the poor. Making jobs that are less desirable to a child from a poor school, than those available to students in a private school the only option for a child studying from either a rural school or government school (depending on the individual).  For example a child from a rural area is more likely to acquire a physical skill like becoming a plumber or welder. Whereas a child that attends a private school or a government school has a higher probability of looking at professions such as aviation or law.

The lack of proper learning facilities and the lack of text books are some of the challenges that are facing children who attend school in the poor areas. The education system needs to take note that a child in grade one is just as important as the one in matric. It is crucial for the education system that they start putting in more effort when it comes to the foundation phase of teaching and learning.
“We do not solve a capacity problem by blaming the kid’s capability” say Prof Jonathan Jansen
The three tier education system has clearly highlighted the division between the rural schools & the urban schools. Education should be a national project, a drive to improve the child’s ability to learn.
Do you think the departments three tiered learning will be successful?
Would those students who are channelled into the technical occupational stream be able to leave school in matric and head straight for the workplace, because they would have acquired skills to make them employable immediately?

In conclusion the three tier system could be a success because it prepares learners for a career after matric without requiring extra studies. Another success factor would be that it aims to reduce the overall dropout rate of South African students.

Reference list:
Qama Qukula, 702 capetalk’s breakfast with Kieno Kammies, 14 January 2016 9:01 AM, SA's new three-tiered school system set to boost technical professions
Omogolo Taunyane, 702's Azania Mosaka, 18 January 2016 2:12 PM, Three-tier education system reinforces 'systemic inequality' - Prof Jansen
Sipho Masondo, city press, 2016-01-11 08:00, SA school system faces major shake-up