Poor maths and science results a huge challenge, warns Naci

2015-05-15 14:50

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The Science Inside: SA's maths and science marks

2014-12-19 12:43

The minister of basic education recently announced the ANA results for 2014, citing dramatic year-on-year improvements in maths and literacy. Experts refute these statistics. The Science Inside investigates if SA's maths and science are as bad as reported.WATCH

Pretoria - Fewer than one in ten matriculants scored more than 60% for maths or science in last year's final exams, the National Advisory Council on Innovation (Naci) said on Friday.

Dr Azar Jammine, Naci's project leader for monitoring, evaluation and indicators, said in the 2014 matric results, just 7.6% passed maths with more than 60%, while 5.5% managed the same in physical science. 

He was addressing a Naci stakeholder consultation workshop in Pretoria.

The National Development Programme (NDP) sought to have more than 25% of university enrolments be at post-graduate level by 2030, which Jammine said was still "a long way off".

Other NDP goals included increased access to maths and science, especially for those in underprivileged schools, and increasing the number of students eligible for mathematics and science courses at university.

"The other big challenge with regard to schools that the NDP sets is that at least 20% should matriculate with 50% in maths and science. We are a long way off that," he said.

He said a big issue was the lack of research and development being conducted by the business sector which remained highly reliant on public sector institutions.

"We need to get the buy-in of the business sector in co-operating with government and the private sector, and vice a versa," he said.

Government departments also "desperately" needed to start co-operating with one another.

"What we need to do is develop a virtuous circle of increased investment in technology which encourages higher economic growth, which in turn improves the profitability of the business sector," Jammine said.

'Missing link'

This is turn would encourage business to spend more in research and development. Business at the moment was sitting back and letting government and universities produce the candidates they needed.

"There is a missing link between government and the business sector. Unfortunately there is a lack of trust that has developed in the last five years that has destroyed the economy," Jammine said.

"Business is busy cocooning itself and busy worrying about the day to day returns and not about the future... on the other side government is under pressure from its electorate, you know, 'These are the fat cat businesses exploiting the situation, we are not getting the opportunities we want. You should step in and interfere'."

What was needed was for both government and the business sector to "take off their masks and must begin being really honest with each other on the way forward".

Jammine had analysed the link between unemployment and educational outcomes and, in South Africa, the link was "undeniable".

In South Africa, there was a direct link between a person's probability of being employed and their level of education.

It was all very well implementing "fancy empowerment schemes", but if empowerment was not being addressed at the basic level, you were not going to get anywhere, Jammine said.

Business people who he had spoken to indicated that job seekers getting less than 50% in maths would only likely be employed in menial jobs.

While South Africa was close to universal education, where those at the appropriate age levels were entering the school system, it was the "quality of that education" that was a major concern.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  education  |  ndp

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