MDG2 report: achieve universal primary education
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According to Millennium Development Goal 2 (MDG 2) all children of school going age, boys and girls, must achieve universal primary education by 2015, or must have completed primary education, regardless of their age. The first democratic elections that took place in 1994, represent a turning point in the history and development of South Africa as the new constitution that emanated from the transition to a democratic state entrenched the right to basic education. It also indicated that the state, through reasonable measures, must make higher education accessible and progressively available to its citizens (Act 108 of 1996). In line with the importance attached to universal education in the constitution, compulsory schooling was introduced for the age group 7 - 15 years by which time learners are expected to have finished grade 9. During the past 20 years significant attention was given to integrating the fragmented education sector inherited in 1994, the expansion of infrastructure and the adoption of the outcomes based education system (OBE) and curricula 2005, as well as the introduction of a number of education policies strategies aimed at reducing inequalities in the education system. The importance attached to education is reflected by the allocation of 20% of the country's budget in 2013 to education. This currently represents the largest sectoral allocation in the country's budget and amounts to 6% of GDP. Public spending on primary and secondary schooling represents 4% of GNP which compares well with the average of 3.1% for developing countries and 2.9% in sub-Saharan Africa (DBE, 2012).
The 2010 MDG report concluded that the country has attained the goal of universal primary education before the targeted date of 2015. That same report encouraged the government to maximise the gains made during the preceding 15 years by translating this achievement into educational transformation and improving the quality and functionality of education. The current report therefore goes beyond achievements related to universal access to education to also include indicators on the efficiency, quality and outputs of the education system.