A history of TIMSS in South Africa
South Africa’s participation in TIMSS was initiated and facilitated by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). TIMSS was first administered in South Africa in 1995 and subsequently in 1999 to Grade 8 learners. In 2002 it was administered to both Grade 8 and 9 learners, and in 2011 to Grade 9 learners only. In 2015, TIMSS was administered to Grade 9 learners, and TIMSS Numeracy was conducted with Grade 5 learners for the first time. In the most recent TIMSS, in 2019, Grade 5 and 9 learners completed both the mathematics and science assessments. Together, the assessments provide data to analyse trends in South African education for over two decades.
For TIMSS 2019 in South Africa, the HSRC conducted the study at the Grade 5 level in 291 schools with 11 891 learners across the country. The Grade 9 data collection took place in 519 schools with 20 829 learners. The number of schools in two provinces, Gauteng and the Western Cape, were boosted from 30 to 150, to provide more robust estimates.
A 2021 chapter by Reddy and Hannan, TIMSS in South Africa: Making global research locally meaningful, provides more detail on the history of TIMSS in the country.