Is SA bum of the course in maths and science WEF superior is meaningless – Africa Splintering

Is SA bum of the course in maths and science WEF superior is meaningless – Africa Splintering

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Concerns nativity too been uttered about S Africa’s high dropout rate.Why the disparagement of “business leaders”? The WEF methodology surveys participants in their meetings. The fact that the leaders of our economy perceive South Africa’s education system to be so poor is material. If their perceptions are incorrect, which your piece seems to be saying, then the question should be why do business leaders hold these incorrect opinions? The answer to that would be interesting.In order to accurately rank an education system you need to do a lot more than ask unnamed “business leaders” for their opinions.To compare educational performance across a number of different countries you need a standardised test and a representative sample of students to take the test in each country.We depend on voluntary donations to run this site. Please help us to keep public figures accountable by supporting the project.An accurate ranking system would require a system of standardised tests conducted by a representative and accurately weighted sample of pupils across  a number of different countries.

I think residents of the republic , business , and educational institutions need to sit down and come with a strategy to make our education better . Thank you to Gustafson for pointing out the methodology error .

That was where the problem lies – the failure of fact is not in the report itself, it is in the misrepresenting of the report by journalists.

Why the matric pass rate is not a reliable benchmark of education quality

Of course this does not mean that all is well in South Africa. The performance of South Africa’s education system has been subject to severe criticism in recent years.

For democracy to function, public figures need to be held to account for what they say. The claims they make need to be checked, openly and impartially. Africa Check is an independent, non-partisan organisation which assesses claims made in the public arena using journalistic skills and evidence drawn from the latest online tools, readers, public sources and experts, sorting fact from fiction and publishing the results.

It does use somewhat misleading terminology in calling itself a “global competitiveness report” but it does make clear that its methodology is based on “an executive opinion survey”. I don’t think it ever purported to be “an accurate ranking system of education quality”. We are not disparaging “business leaders”. We are criticising the methods used by the WEF. Education quality can be measured accurately in a way that is far more insightful and useful than a ranking system based on opinions.

Thank you for such a brilliant article . I’m a product of the new education system that was implemented in South Africa .I think when we look at South Africa we have to remember that apartheid had a negative effect on our country .Martin Gustafsson, a researcher in the economics department at Stellenbosch University, told Africa Check that the report offered no valuable insight into the quality of maths and science education in South Africa.The article and the comments are interesting. Yes, the methodology is not “scientific” but the article raises issues which are very serious. It is time the State leads the way with excellence at Education Department level, and demands excellence in training institutions and in school classrooms.

But in the WEF report, it  was ranked in 76th position, higher than Lesotho (105), Malawi (113), Uganda (119), Namibia (128), Mozambique (137) and South Africa (148).

On the matter of disparagement, why the use the scare quotes? Were someone to write about “journalists” I think their intention would be clear, no?

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Any contributions that violate the rules may be removed by the moderator. The two thousand fifteen report has again placed South Africa at the bottom for maths and science. Time for some preemptive fact-checking, before the truth is distorted again.The real problem, and what animated the basic education department, is the way this report was used by some journalists to make claims about the objective state of the education system.

SACMEQ and PIRLS are able to qualitatively show where countries are in terms of Math and Science. The challenges are and are being addressed. This is turning the Titanic, it takes some bit of a time!

While I agree that the opinions of these people are merely their opinions, that is not of no import. Generally these are people who are worthy of the term. A report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has ranked the quality of South Africa’s maths and science education last out of one hundred forty eight countries. But is the ranking an accurate reflection of the state of schooling in the country?The study noted that “at least a quarter of children are enrolled but have learnt so little in six years of formal full-time schooling that they have not even mastered functional literacy or numeracy”.58 Number of SA business leaders polled in 2014Solving the education problem in S.A is not going to take twenty years.

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Those are not “scare quotes”. We refer to “business leaders” in quotation marks because that is the term used by the WEF to describe the otherwise unidentified people who participated in their opinion survey.

In this instance, around fifty South African “business leaders” were asked to assess the quality of maths and science education in the country and score it from poor to excellent. Individual responses were then arbitrarily weighted according to the sector each “business leader” worked in. The weighting was based on the “estimated contributions to a country’s GDP of each of the four main economic sectors: agriculture, manufacturing industry, non-manufacturing industry, and services”.

The education rankings are not, in fact, an assessment of the quality of maths and science education in South Africa or any of the other one hundred forty seven countries covered. Instead they are simply a reflection of the personal opinions of a small group of unidentified “business leaders” about a topic in which they are not expert.Incidentally, the government has no problem quoting this same survey approvingly when it comes to positive readings, like the very high rankings it gives to our capital markets and banking system.The single, most destructive action taken in SA post one thousand nine hundred ninety four was the closing down of Teachers’ Training Colleges. Thank you for an excellent article – and for delving, to come up with the truth!By making any contribution you agree that, in addition to these House Rules, you shall be bound by Africa Check’s Terms and Conditions of use which can be accessed on the website.“There is valuable data in the report. For things like business confidence it is useful.I think South Africa is the best country in the world and you idiots are extremely stupid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But you

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can’t apply opinions to things like education. It is like asking business experts what they think the HIV rate is,” he said.Firstly, no standardised tests were conducted to assess the quality of maths and science education in the countries surveyed.


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Contributions must:Contributions may not:Secondly, the ranking was derived from an annual “Executive Opinion Survey” carried out by the WEF. This opinion survey draws on interviews with various unidentified “business leaders”.Thanks for the article.

The problem lies with the report, the manner in which it attempts to rank education quality across countries on the basis of an opinion survey and with the way it was interpreted by reporters.

SACMEQ conducted three major education policy research projects between 1995-1998, 1998-2004 and 2005-2010.  Data for the most recent research project was collected during the last quarter of two thousand seven from 61,396 grade six students and 8,026 grade six teachers in 2,779 schools.  Students were required to answer multiple-choice questions on reading, mathematics and health.

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This is a re-release of a report first published on June five to take into account the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2014–2015, released on three September. The competitiveness report again placed South Africa’s math and science education at the bottom of the countries assessed. However, the ranking is still meaningless as the WEF once more based it on its Executive Opinion Survey of anonymous South African business leaders. The leaders polled (47 in two thousand thirteen and fifty eight in 2014) were asked to answer this question: In your country, how would you assess the quality of math and science education? [1 = extremely poor—among the worst in the world; seven = excellent—among the best in the world]. The results for two thousand thirteen and two thousand fourteen were averaged to assign South Africa a score of 1.9, the same as for the Global Information Technology Report two thousand fourteen discussed below. 3/9/14

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For example, when the two thousand thirteen matric class started grade one in 2002, there were 1,261,827 pupils. By the time they sat their final exams, those numbers had more than halved to 562,112.Africa Check encourages frank, open, inclusive discussion of the topics raised on the website. To ensure the discussion meets these aims we have established some simple House Rules for contributions.

Edited by Julian RademeyerIn response, South Africa’s Department of Basic Education issued a press release dismissing the report as “not a credible or accurate reflection of the state of education in South Africa”.That said, no thinking South African would rejoice at the state of our education but ‘research’ like this is best described by King Solomon thousands of years ago, “There is nothing new under the sun . . .and all is meaningless, utterly meaningless, . . . a chasing after the wind!”

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At best they are a reflection of the opinions of around fifty “business leaders”.Source: World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion SurveyGustafsson summed it up: “The bottom line is that test-based data suggests that indeed South Africa’s quality of education requires a lot of fixing, and is well below where it should be. Yet the catchy slogan that we are ‘at the bottom of the world’ is not supported by the evidence.”It doesn’t make any sense to have S.A occupy the first four places in the top Universities in Africa and yet struggle in terms of basic education .

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Countries represented in the consortium include Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.There are still very real concerns about the state of education, literacy and numeracy in South Africa.South Africa’s basic education department is correct. The WEF’s education rankings are not an accurate reflection of the state of education in South Africa.

It’s not only politicians who jump to conclusions. Surely the media has a responsibility to exercise its grey cells before swallowing errant nonsense? But then of course there would be no need for Africa Check! My institution used to subscribe to the annual report until we looked at it closely.

1.9 Score out of seven for SA’s math and science education


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The fact that business leaders perceive the education system to be poor is material. But it is certainly not the basis for an accurate ranking system of education quality.The WEF’s methodology is clearly not that well known, judging by the commentary and many of the news articles in South Africa and internationally following the release of the report. As you point out, the report does use misleading terminology.There are two key problems  – both of which we touched on in a previous report that looked at the WEF’s research methodology.The most comprehensive and most current data on educational performance across a number of African countries was compiled by the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ).


Well done also to the Department for pointing out the ‘errors’ in the report.The basic education department’s own academic assessments revealed last year that just three percent of school pupils in grade nine had achieved more than 50% in mathematics.South Africa’s average student maths score placed it eighth out of the fifteen countries.  Mozambique, Uganda, Lesotho, Namibia, Malawi and Zambia all scored lower than South Africa in the SACMEQ test, yet they were all ranked higher in the WEF’s report.Is South Africa’s education system the worst in Africa?A two thousand twelve study published by the University of Stellenbosch found that while 71% of children in grade six were functionally literate, only 58.6% could be considered functionally numerate.Zambia, for instance, came in last in the SACMEQ test.



Second best is never acceptable. It is equally time the voters of this country demand such excellence and value for their taxes… and let’s see the ConstiSouth Africa’s education department has reacted angrily to a World Economic Forum (WEF) report that ranked the country last out of one hundred forty eight countries for the quality of its maths and science education. After nearly forty years in education it is depressing to see how so many children are suffering at the hands of those who care so little!! We have schools and schools… ranging from excellent to depressingly poor… and in the latter, the children suffer. The solution starts with teacher training. I understand that such training was raised to four years but has gone back to a minimum of three years – a terrible move!! We need highly trained teachers in ALL schools. Use the world’s best school education system as the example, namely FINLAND. In that country ALL teachers must have FIVE years training and must complete a Masters Degree – that is all teachers wanting to teach anywhere from Grade one to Grade 12. And Finland has far more applicants to train as teachers than University places available! The focus has to be on excellence and nothing less. There must be no place for teacher strikes, late arrival at school, leaving early, etc etc.

It’s disturbing that opinion surveys are presented without a blush as seemingly accurate assessments of worldwide situations.

GUIDE: Assessing South Africa’s schooling system

The statement regarding moral and intellectual integrity is problematic for me. How can any so-called scientist square the results of an opinion survey with a topic that can be quite easily researched without an explanation?

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The Forum describes the WEF as follows in its mission statement . . .”The Forum strives in all its efforts to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest while upholding the highest standards of governance. Moral and intellectual integrity is at the heart of everything it does.”

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These rankings, though, are again just the opinions of executives, not some objective measure. Only Yemen – at 147th position – and Libya – at 148th – fared worse.Additional reading47 Number of SA business leaders polled in 2013The WEF’s two thousand fourteen Global Information Technology Report also ranked South Africa 146th for the overall quality of its education, below a host of other African countries including Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda, Senegal, Nigeria, Tanzania, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali.The WEF opinion poll is done every year and its methodology is well known.


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