Millions spent but kids still struggle in key subjects

Millions spent but kids still struggle in key subjects

The number of books at their homes, whether there are flush toilets, whether they are victims of bullying and the quality of the pre-schools they attend could all add up to Johnny or Sipho growing up to become a mathematics boffin or science dud.

Most of South Africa’s children are not doing well in those two key school subjects, suggesting that the “building blocks” of schooling are still in disarray.

The results of the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study released yesterday show that the millions being pumped into free childhood development programmes are not yielding hoped-for results.

The report, released in Pretoria by the Human Sciences Research Council and Department of Basic Education, is a global study comparing maths and science literacy in 57 countries, and the outcomes in Grades 5 and 9.

South Africa scored at the lower end of the spectrum, among countries such as Morocco, Jordan and Kuwait, registering a slight improvement from “very low to low” since the last survey in 2011.

The average Grade 9 maths result was 372. In Singapore it was 621. Botswana is also ahead, with a score of 391 for Grade 9 maths.