Education data to empower parents, pupils, educators & build accountability
Data-driven education journalism

Data is key to understanding the state of education in South Africa but the data that is available often isn’t easy to access or make sense of. Passmark’s aim is to create a clearer picture of the state of our schools by collecting the data that’s out there and presenting it in ways that make it useful to parents, pupils, educators and anybody else who has an interest in education.

We believe that quality data leads to deeper insight, so we will also make the data we collect available for others to use.

571 South African public schools have no electricity supply.
November 2016
What is an acceptable school?

On 29 November 2013 the Regulations Relating to Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure were signed by the minister of education. These standards define what a public school should look like. They include what a school should be made of, what basic services it should have, the maximum number of learners in a class, what sports facilities, laboratories, and security it should have. The regulations also set deadlines for achieving these standards.

The first deadline was 29 November 2016.

66 South African public schools have no sanitation facilities.
November 2016
South Africa's Deadly School Toilets

Two young children have died after falling into pit toilets at their schools. Pit toilets are not allowed in schools, yet one in three of South Africa's public schools has one. Passmark looked at publicly available data to get a clearer picture of the state our schools' toilets.

View the full story.

Slowly, slowly South Africa’s unsafe schools are being replaced

One of the things President Cyril Ramaphosa listed as an achievement in his 2018 State of the Nation address was that “at least 187” ASIDI schools have been completed by the Department of Basic Education.

The Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Development Iniative (ASIDI) was launched in 2011 with the aim of bringing basic services to schools that had no access to water, sanitation and electricity and to replace schools made of mud, wood and asbestos. An R8.2-billion grant, known as the Schools Infrastructure Backlog Grant (SIBG), was allocated to fund the work.

Passmark got a list of 187 new schools that have been built through the ASIDI programme and made an interactive tool to view the completed schools.

View the full story and interactive map.

Six State of the Nation Addresses compared

President Cyril Ramaphosa dedicated a substantial chunk of his first State of the Nation Address in Parliament on February 16 2018, to persuading South Africans to put “the era of discord, disunity and disillusionment” behind them. “A new dawn is upon us,” he said.

What does that mean? Working on the assumption that the number of words the president devotes to a topic is an indication of the level of importance he places on that topic, Passmark looked at the past six State of the Nation addresses and visualised the 12 topics that got the most airtime. Education, we are happy to report, has been in the top 12 in all but one year, 2016, which was, ironically, just after the #FeesMustFall protests started on campuses around the country.

View the full report and visualisation here, or click on the image below.

12 years in South Africa's schools

In 2005 just over 1.2 million children started grade one. In an ideal world these students would have taken 12 years to complete their schooling. In reality, less than half of them will reach grade 12 within 12 years, and even fewer of them will pass matric and gain a university entrance.

Click on the image below to to view the full interactive graphic and article.

How big are South Africa's schools?

South Africa has more than 25,000 schools, 23,000 of which are public schools that cater for more than 12-million learners. In theory, that means on average there is one school for every 500 learners. But, in reality, that isn’t the case. Some schools cater to just a handful of learners while others have thousands of children. Passmark used the schools masterlist for the first quarter of 2016, the latest data available from the Department of Basic Education, to look at how big South Africa’s schools are.

Click on the image below to to view the full interactive graphic and article.

Gauteng's most sought-after schools

Want to know where Gauteng’s most popular government schools are? Thirty-seven schools got more than 1,000 applications each for grades 1 or 8 next year. We mapped them and all the other high-pressure schools in the province.

Click on the image below to to view the full interactive graphic and article.

Education in the State of the Nation

President Jacob Zuma has delivered ten State of the Nation (SONA) addresses. In most of them the issue of education has barely made an appearance. In the 2017 SONA, education featured more prominently, mostly because of the Fees Must Fall protests. Passmark looked at the all ten SONAs and the issues that featured most prominently.

Click on the image below to to view the full interactive graphic and article.

Hidden danger: asbestos in Gauteng's schools

South Africa's Department of Education adopted regulations in 2013 stipulating that all schools made of asbestos had to be replaced by 29 November 2016. The Gauteng education department (GDE), which is responsible for the province’s school infrastructure, identified 29 asbestos schools for replacement, but not one of them was replaced by the deadline.

What’s more, the 29 schools currently earmarked for replacement are just a small part of the problem. According to the GDE’s own information, there are more than 200 schools in the province with asbestos structures. But the list of asbestos schools keeps changing, and it is unclear if it is complete, and if the asbestos structures are in good condition.

Asbestos was banned in South Africa in 2008 because it is known to cause cancer.

View the asbestos project here.

Passmark was made possible by funding from the
Taco Kuiper Fund for Investigative Journalism at Wits University.