The Trend in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS), released this week, shows that South African learners perform very poorly in maths and science.
South Africa took the second to the last position in Grade 4 mathematics, second last for Grade 8 mathematics a and took last in Grade 8 sciences.
Morocco, Botswana and Egypt actually took the least positions in the study as well on the international science ranking.
TIMSS is an internationally recognized assessment programme which objective is to ascertain the level of improvement in the educational standards of various countries.
Many South Africans have been appalled by this result.
A report claims that South Africa cheated in the international test in the sense that the Grade 4 tests were done by Grade 5 students while the Grade 8 tests were done by Grade 9’s. Yet the outcome was not exactly satisfying.
Coming from a different perspective, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga thinks there is actually something about the result to be happy about.
“Firstly, let us acknowledge that South African scores in Mathematics and Science are low but improving.”
“The study shows that South Africa has made the biggest improvement of any education system in the world since we have been participating in the study.”
In an official statement released by Angie on the ministry’s website, she says “historically, this phase has been a challenge for the sector”.
Analysing the TIMSS performance from 2003-2015, she says there has been a noteworthy improvement of 87 points for Mathematics and 90 points for Science.
She says the improved TIMSS scores should also be viewed in context of concentrated efforts and support provided in the senior phase.
Another high point mentioned in the statement is the increase in the literacy level of parents in Gauteng.
“An intriguing finding of the report is that the educational level of parents in South Africa has considerably improved between 2003 and 2015, especially in Gauteng which increased from 26% to 48%.”