In this series of five reports, CDE presents a comprehensive analysis of what is ailing the education system, what needs to be done to fix it, and how to mobilize civil society and business to pressure government to make reform happen.
South Africa’s comparative performance is shocking. When our learners take international tests, we are either last or in the bottom three countries. Even more devastating, while other countries test Grade 4s we test Grade 5s, when they test Grade 8s we test Grade 9s.
Many countries poorer than South Africa outperform us in these tests including Morocco, Egypt, Georgia, Kosovo and Albania. According to the World Bank, South Africa is the world’s biggest underperformer in education relative to per capita income.
Past reform efforts, some of which have been positive, have not moved the dial. The key issue is the refusal to tackle the elephant in the room: SADTU’s capture of “six or more” of the country’s nine provincial education departments.
Reform is possible. Getting reform to happen requires the right diagnosis, an energetic, committed and new leadership team at national and provincial levels, and a society prepared to up the pressure for better schooling.