Key Points:

  • South Africa is significantly underperforming in education, particularly mathematics teaching and learning. Fundamental reforms are needed in the public sector.
  • Business leaders need to incorporate an understanding of private education and other market experiments and schooling innovations in their overall perspective and priorities for intervention and reform. Read more in a new CDE Insight, mathematics outcomes in south african schools: What are the facts? What should be done?
  • The teaching of mathematics in South African schools is amongst the worst on the world. In 2011, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) showed that South African learners have the lowest performance among all 21 middle-income countries that participated.
  • A recent CDE report further underlines the issue as it found rapid increases in enrolments in private extra mathematics classes, which was partly in response to poor teaching in public schools.
  • Such supplementary efforts fail to address the wider deficiencies in mathematics education. Vast improvements in this area of the public schooling system are vital to South Africa’s future socioeconomic prospects: for the learners as well as the development of the country as a whole.
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