According to UNESCO, 18.2% of the adult population is illiterate. According to educationvv, school education is compulsory for children between the ages of 7 and 16. In 1996, 94% of all children (93% of boys and 95% of girls) attended primary schools, and 51% (46 and 57%) of secondary schools. Scientific work is carried out at universities and research institutes. In 2000, there were 22 universities and 15 technical universities (technicians) in the country. In 2002, a reform of the university system was launched, as a result of which some universities will be closed, but new ones will open. Scientific institutes conduct research in many areas: astronomy, physics, biology, medicine, social sciences. To some extent, research is coordinated by the South African Academy of Arts and Sciences, but the institutions are administratively independent of it. South Africa is the first country to have had a heart transplant.
From con. 19th century created an extensive South African literature in English, Afrikaans and African languages. The names of such writers as O. Schreiner, B. Vilakazi, A. Jordan, P. Abrahams, Breitenbach and others are known all over the world. N. Gordiner was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
The architecture of South African cities is very diverse. Local architects brought originality to European styles – Neo-Gothic, Neoclassicism, creating “Cape” architecture. In con. 20th century in large cities, many administrative buildings were erected with a complex planning solution in the style of the most avant-garde trends. The development of painting and music is characterized by the revival of the traditional African heritage and the combination of elements of African and European art. South African church choral singing has gained worldwide fame.
Government budget (2002/03, US$ billion): revenues 22.6, expenditures (including capital investment budget) 24.7. Taxes provide 75% of budget revenues. To combat poverty, for several years now there has been a “temporary” tax on the income of individuals and legal entities, if they exceed 50 thousand rand per year. At the same time, since 2000, corporate income tax has been reduced from 40% to 35%, but tax on dividends has been increased from 15% to 25%. A feature of the state budget is that 46% of its expenditures are transfers to the provinces to be used for social needs. The second largest item of expenditure in the 2001/02 budget was public debt servicing (20.2%). In the 2002/03 budget, it dropped to 15.7%. In recent years, the budget deficit is planned at 2.1% of GDP, but the budget execution showed 1.4-1.5%. External public debt – $ 25.5 billion.
The standard of living in South Africa is higher than in most African countries, but the national income is distributed extremely unevenly. Since 1993, data on its distribution by racial groups have not been published, but the income of the majority of whites is still several times greater than that of the vast majority of Africans. In 2000, 50% of the population was below the poverty line. These are primarily rural residents and the unemployed in cities. The situation of other sections of urban residents has improved in recent years. Wages in the public and private sectors are indexed in line with inflation, and the cost of living index in 2000-02 did not exceed it, amounting to 5-6% per year. A minimum wage has been set for various industries. In the mining industry, it amounts to $200 per month for those working on the surface. Besides, the miners’ union achieved a 25% increase in the wages of low-paid workers. Many trade unions and employers have entered into agreements to link wages to increased productivity. The repeal of apartheid laws to exclude Africans from skilled labor opened the way for them to engage in private business and thus improve their standard of living. Already, Africans have ousted whites from the taxi service and millionaire Africans have entered the business. The policy of Africanization not only changed the racial composition of the state apparatus, there were changes in the administration of large private companies. The improvement in the living standards of the working population is evidenced by the increase in sales of durable goods and the growth of bank deposits (by 20% a year in 2000–01). Bank deposits exceed the mass of money in the hands of the population by 11 times. We can talk about the emergence of an African “middle class”.
The dependence of the South African economy on foreign trade is very significant. In 2001, South Africa had a positive trade balance. Exports amounted to 32.3 billion US dollars, and imports – 28.1 billion. The main export items are gold, diamonds, platinum, other minerals, machinery and equipment, food and beverages. Main imports: vehicles, machinery, oil, chemicals, foodstuffs. Main trading partners: EU, USA, Japan, Holland, Saudi Arabia. South Africa is a member of the South African Customs Union, which also includes Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland. The balance of payments of South Africa has been reduced in recent years with a positive balance (2.16 billion dollars, 2001).