Key Points:

  • Schooling reform is necessary to urgently address the education crisis in South Africa. Evidence from Ghana, India, Brazil and the US shows that schooling reform is possible, even in very large systems, and significant improvements can be achieved relatively quickly.
  • Despite high government expenditure (5-6% of GDP) and very poor student performances, the severity of the situation is not sufficiently recognised.
  • All international speakers underlined the importance of teachers. No education system can transcend the capacity and performance of teachers.
  • The key to improving education in South Africa is to strengthen accountability. In the case of schools, three levels of interventions are needed to achieve this: information, school-based management, and teacher incentives.
  • Schooling reform in Africa is most effective when it starts from the ground up and empowers those who are closest to learners, namely, parents and communities.