SA almost dead last in maths and science education - WEF report

Ahmed Areff, News24

Johannesburg - South Africa is almost dead last among 140 countries in terms of its maths and science education, according to this year's World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness report.

Last year's report also put the country last out of 148 countries.

The report for 2015/16 painted a dismal picture, with South Africa placed at 138 out of 140 countries.

The only two countries ranked lower were Egypt and Paraguay.

In terms of internet access in schools, South Africa was 119 out of 140.

Democratic Alliance MP Annette Lovemore said while the methodology used to determine the rankings were based on perceptions, "this continued negative trend demonstrates that employers view the quality of our education to be inadequate".

"This will impact on their willingness to invest in South Africa and create more jobs – which our economy so desperately needs," she said in a statement.

"The WEF ranking and other indices used to measure the quality of education does not reflect the ability of our learners, but are indicative of an education system that needs urgent intervention."

Last year the basic education department criticised the report, saying it was "not a credible or accurate reflection of the state of education in South Africa" and was "based purely on the opinions or perceptions of selected executives".

Africa Check at the time also looked at last year's report and said: "The WEF’s education rankings are not an accurate reflection of the state of education in South Africa. At best they are a reflection of the opinions of around 50 'business leaders'.

"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."