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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

South Africa Integrates Education

JOHANNESBURG -- South Africa formally scrapped racially based education this week but the shadow of decades of apartheid still looms over the school system.

Thousands of pupils started their school year in Gauteng province, South Africa's commercial and financial heartland around Johannesburg, at schools opened to all races for the first time.

But the legacy of four decades of apartheid will continue to drag on despite the scrapping of apartheid and the formation of a single education system, education officials said Friday.

"We have started the process of abolishing race education once and for all, but the effects or legacy of apartheid is going to be with us for a long time," Education Ministry spokesman Lincoln Mali said.

State schools opened Wednesday in Gauteng, while schools in other pro-vinces will open over the coming week.

Education Minister Sibusiso Bengu has said a single system to govern education would be in place by April.

Until the end of 1994, education was governed by 18 education departments -- for white, black, mixed-race and Asian pupils -- under the apartheid system which ended last April when President Nelson Mandela's African National Congress won the country's first all-race elections.

The government still spends four times as much on a child in traditionally white areas as on a child in a black area.

Last year, only 48.5 percent of all black final-year school pupils passed, compared with the white pass rate of 97.3 percent.

In some of South Africa's eight other provinces, education bodies have warned of a looming crisis. But education ministry spokesman Mali said Mandela's government made the rehabilitation of education one of its priorities.

As part of its flagship Reconstruction and Development Program, the government has allocated at least 100 million rand ($28.4 million) to rehabilitate and upgrade schools in black areas.

And the government planned to shift about 15 percent of the country's 1995-96 education budget from white schools to traditional black schools, Mali said.