Pupils’ scores show change is possible
The Human Sciences Research Council released the results of South Africa’s participation in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (Timss) 2015 on November 29 2016.
Timss was first conducted in South Africa in 1995, and thereafter in 1999, 2003, 2011 and 2015. The most recent study provides an opportunity for South Africa to assess its achievements and to examine how the home and school contexts influence educational achievement.
South Africa participated at the grade nine level in 2003, 2011 and 2015. The trend data provides us with a unique opportunity to plot the educational achievements during this period. The changes in school mathematics performance provide a measure of whether the historical differences in the system are shifting in the right direction.
Thirty-nine countries participated in Timss 2015 at the grade eight or nine level. As a low-performing country, South Africa tested at the grade nine level.
The top five ranked countries for mathematics in 2015, as in the previous studies, were from East Asia — Singapore (scoring 621), Republic of Korea (606), Chinese Taipei (599), Hong Kong (594) and Japan (586). The five lowest-performing countries were Botswana (391), Jordan (386), Morocco (384), South Africa (372) and Saudi Arabia (368) — countries from Africa and the Middle East.