SA’s maths and science second worst of 144 countries

2013-04-17 00:00

IT’S no secret that South Africa continues to struggle with the quality of its maths and science teaching, despite hefty monetary injections from the government.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) confirmed this once again in its Global Information Technology Report 2013, which was released this month.

According to the report, South Africa ranked second worst, beating only Yemen, in the assessment of the quality of maths and science, ranking 143 out of 144 countries. Singapore was ranked number one.

South Africa’s education quality was ranked 140.

“Quality education is how well the education system in your country meets the need of a competitive economy,” the report said.

The WEF is an independent international organisation that engages with business, political, academic and other leaders to shape global, regional and industry agendas in order to improve the state of the world.

South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) executive director Professor Johann Engelbrecht said the SA situation in maths was worrying.

SAMF is a section 21 company that aims to advance the develoment of mathematics education.

Engelbrecht told The Witness South Africa’s economic future depended on quality education and that drastic measures needed to be taken to improve it.

Many rural teachers were not qualified and they lack commitment and management, said Engelbrecht.

“I don’t blame them because the treatment we’re giving them is not good enough. We should be rewarding them for the work that they do.”

Engelbrecht said rural children had a lot of talent in maths — they just needed to be trained.

But the situation was not all doom and gloom, Engelbrecht said; there had been an improvement noted in the 2012 matric results.

“Yes, we’re improving gradually but too slowly,” he said.

Democratic Alliance Education spokesperson Anne Lovemore said: “We can no longer deny the fact that our education system has limped down the international rankings and is in dire need of intervention.”

However, she welcomed the recent establishment by the Minister of Basic Education of a special task team to investigate the progress of teaching programmes in maths, science and technology.

The Department of Education declined to comment yesterday, saying it had commented on the issue in January. However, the 2013 report was issued only this month.

SA versus its neighbours

143 out of 144 SA

50 Zimbabwe

66 Botswana

110 Swaziland

127 Namibia

131 Mozambique

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