Goal 4: Quality education
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Education is vital as a catalyst for positive change. Learning empowers and can be used to drive innovation and sustainable development.

Nowhere is the failure to deliver quality learning more apparent than in sub-Saharan Africa where challenges abound, including a lack of infrastructure, facilities and basic amenities like electricity and drinking water and a shortage of trained teachers. As a consequence, minimum levels of reading proficiency have declined and school completion rates are expected to get worse.

UCT is involved in numerous ongoing projects and research initiatives to address the imperative of ensuring inclusive and equitable education. One focus is mathematics learning in multilingual contexts. UCT Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, is an internationally rated scholar and was the first black woman in South Africa to achieve a PhD in this field.

The Political Economy of Education Research (PEER) Network, led in Africa by researchers in the School of Education, partners with academics and policymakers in conflict-affected countries in Africa and elsewhere to advise national, regional and global-level policymakers with making socially just decisions about education investments for the most marginalised. The three-year project is a collaboration between UCT, the universities of Sussex and Ulster in the United Kingdom, and Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan.

The Schools Development Unit (SDU), part of the School of Education at UCT, draws on research expertise to help tackle the systemic and structural challenges of South Africa’s education landscape.

UCT has also developed considerable expertise in tertiary education. The UCT Centre for Research in Engineering Education (CREE) is concerned with improving classroom practice and student learning. It explores innovative technologies and methodologies to nurture and facilitate learning.

As education embraces technology and flexibility, UCT has 23 free, high-quality online Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), five of which are among the top 200 across the globe according to a recent international ranking. These cover a range of subjects, from scientific and philosophical to humanising healthcare. And in 2021, UCT launched its UCT Online High School – the first of its kind in Africa – to provide affordable online learning to scholars regardless of geographical location.