CDE published its first report on maths and science education in 2004. It found that the education system was producing far too few Senior Certificate (SC) maths and science passes, particularly in the higher grade (HG), and that this serious shortfall in numbers would increasingly constrain economic growth by prolonging and deepening South Africa’s skills shortages.
In 2004, CDE recommended that stakeholders make a concerted effort to double the number of HG maths and sciences passes (from 25 000 to 50 000) in the space of five years. Despite the fact that the government adopted this goal in 2006, little progress has been made.
Statistical analysis indicates that only about half the Senior Certificate candidates who could pass HG maths do so. Some have chosen to do senior grade (SG) maths; others have chosen not to do maths at all; and others attend schools that do not offer HG maths. Therefore, the potential for doubling the number of HG maths passes exists.
To realise this potential, more learners must be persuaded to take this subject. If it isn’t offered at schools close to where they live, learners with an aptitude for maths must be given the opportunity to attend schools where it is offered.
Furthermore, the vast majority of private sector interventions have little lasting impact on the quality of the maths and science schooling system. Private donors need to refocus their efforts on changes to the system that can have multiplier effects rather than single isolated projects.