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South Africa has one of the world’s worst education systems

AFTER half an hour of pencil-chewing Lizeka Rantsan’s class lines up at her desk to hand in its maths tests. The teacher at Oranjekloof primary school in Cape Town thanks the 11- and 12-year-olds and flicks through the papers. Ms Rantsan sighs, unimpressed. Pulling one sheet of errant scribbles from the pile she asks: “How are we supposed to help these children?”

It is a question that South Africa is failing to answer. In a league table of education systems drawn up in 2015 by the OECD club of mainly rich countries, South Africa ranks 75th out of 76. In November the latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), a quadrennial test sat by 580,000 pupils in 57 countries, had South Africa at or near the bottom of its various rankings (see chart), though its scores had improved since 2011. Its children are behind those in poorer parts of the continent. A shocking 27% of pupils who have attended school for six years cannot read, compared with 4% in Tanzania and 19% in Zimbabwe. After five years of school about half cannot work out that 24 divided by three is eight. Only 37% of children starting school go on to pass the matriculation exam; just 4% earn a degree….[ ]

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