For my assignment in assessing data on Cape Town’s youth, I decided to compare two of city’s neighboring wards, 54 and 74, and their dramatic differences in access to higher education. Ward 54, a predominantly white neighborhood, has a matriculation or higher rate of 90% for its youths, while Ward 74, geographically seated just below the former, has a rate of about half that. Naturally, there are many obstacles in the way of attaining a higher education. Some are obvious, such as finances and number of dependents per household; while others are more nuanced, such as language and access to internet and transportation. While impossible to prove causation based on an observational study, I decided to look into some potential contributing factors of the education disparity in order to speculate some correlation.
I began by examining the breakdowns of native languages spoken in the two wards, as this data not only hints at a racial demographic as well, but also narrows in on the importance of language in education. Universities and public schools in Cape Town are primarily taught in English, but in Ward 74, Xhosa is the most popular tongue. While many of these Xhosa speakers can be assumed to also command English, studying in their second and less natural language might create more educational struggles. This could perhaps inhibit their marks and discourage them from seeking a higher education where their language will still be marginalized. Ward 54, however, generates majority English speakers with all other languages barely making a smudge on the graph.
I also investigated access to internet for youths in the different wards, as we see an increased dependence on online resources for university and high school courses. However, while only about 10% of Ward 54’s demographic have no consistent internet access, nearly half of the youths in Ward 74 are rendered without internet privileges. The lack of internet access is not just discouraging, but can also make it impossible for students to keep up with assignments. This further inhibits educational opportunities for the Ward’s children.
Choosing this data, presenting it, and supporting it, was no easy task. With only limited experience using microsoft excel, and missing the Youth Explorer workshop because it fell on Rosh Hashana, I felt very behind when I first began this project. Further, not all of the sample sizes of Youth were the same in each study, making the data somewhat inconsistent. While the data for native languages observed Youth ages 15-24, the data for matriculation only observed youth ages 20-24. However, none of the data was too striking, nor was it suggestive that the change of sample size severely altered any important information.
Noting a correlation between educational disparity, language, and internet access in the neighboring wards only leads to an educated guess at best, as no formal conclusions can be drawn. Yet I chose language and internet access as potential contributing factors for limited access to higher education in Ward 74 not only because they are related to, and thus somewhat encompass, other factors such as race and wealth, but also because they are often overlooked when investigating causes of educational equality.