For the second successive year, South Africa has ranked last out 140 countries for the quality of math and science education.
This is according to the Global Competitiveness Report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The DA pointed out that while the methodology used to determine the rankings is based on perceptions, this continued negative trend demonstrates that employers view the quality of our education to be inadequate.
“This will impact on their willingness to invest in South Africa and create more jobs – which our economy so desperately needs,” said the political party’s Annette Steyn.
The following information confirms that the quality of maths education is in crisis:
- The percentage of learners taking mathematics in Grade 12 has declined from 49% in 2010 to just under 41% in 2015;
- Only 53% of Grade 12 learners who wrote matric maths in 2014 achieved above 30%, and only 35% achieved above 40%;
- A shocking 25% of our secondary schools do not offer mathematics in Grades 10 to 12;
- South Africa is compelled to use our Grade 9 candidates for the international Grade 8 tests that form the basis of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in order to maintain even a semblance of competitiveness; and
- The Department of Basic Education (DBE) does not know whether mathematics is being taught by teachers who are qualified to do so.
The DA stressed that 93 of the top 100 scarce skills in South Africa -the skills this country really need – require a decent pass in mathematics.
“For employers to consistently place South Africa at the bottom of the rankings for maths and science and that this perception has not changed for the last four years is a reflection of the deterioration that our own local figures portray,” Steyn said.
The DA said that the WEF ranking and other indices used to measure the quality of education does not reflect the ability of the country’s learners but are indicative of an education system that needs urgent intervention.
“We must do all we can to find models and interventions that work to address the quality of maths and science education so to better equip our children with the necessary skills and knowledge to compete in a modern economy,” Steyn said.