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SA's maths and science education ranked 2nd worst in world - Annette Lovemore

DA MP says WEF report further ranks quality of our education system 140th out of 144 countries

WEF ranks SA's math and science education 2nd worst in the world

The recently released World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Information Technology Report 2013 ranks South Africa's Maths and Science education second last in the world, only ahead of Yemen. It further ranks the quality of our education system 140 of 144 countries and our Internet Access in Schools, 111 of 143 countries (see here).

We welcome the Minister's recently established special task team investigating the progress of teaching programmes in maths, science and technology across South Africa. 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 the Minister must attach urgency to this initiative and announce this team and their terms of reference without delay - I will be asking further Parliamentary questions to ascertain it's full intention and progress. 

Further we call on the Minister and this task team to:

  • Prioritise debating different models and interventions to address the quality of maths and science in SA;
  • Publicly call for representations by education experts and NGOs from inside and outside SA with recorded success on how maths and science education can be improved;
  • Call for input from schools with a high success rate in maths and science teaching on their best practice; and
  • Implement recommendations for successful alternative models for teaching these critical subjects. 

With targeted interventions in maths and science and learning from successful projects like our Centre of Science and Technology, we can turn the situation around, as we have in the DA-run Western Cape.

The Western Cape has had great success with targeted interventions to address the quality of maths and science education. The province's 2012 matric mathematics pass rate is 73.5% against a national average of 54%, with a similar trend in its matric physical science pass rate; which was 70.9% compared to a national average of 61.3%. 

Further interventions utilised by the WCED include intensive management support from district offices, subject-specific support for schools with historically low pass rates, and the delivery of additional textbooks in critical subject areas such as maths and science. 

The WEF ranking does not reflect the ability of our learners, but an education system that needs urgent intervention. Ultimately, the aim of education must be to produce globally competitive citizens. It is imperative that both the curriculum and the methodologies utilised in its delivery are aligned to the desired outcomes.

We must do all we can to find models and interventions that work to address the quality of maths and science education in South Africa. This will equip our children with the necessary skills and knowledge to compete in a modern and ICT-driven economy and lift themselves up in life.

Statement issued by Annette Lovemore MP, DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education, April 16 2013

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