South Africa has participated in a number of local and international achievement studies in the field of education over the last 20 years and responses to the results have been somewhat mixed. Critics argue that participation in international assessments is a pointless exercise because of the slow pace of improvement in South African education. Supporters point out that international assessment results can be useful at many different levels of policy and planning, especially when studies are repeated across time. The purpose of this book is to provide a measured assessment of what has been achieved in South African education over the last 20 years based on the evidence provided by Trends in International Mathematics and Science Studies (TIMMS), to redefine what good progress means in light of South Africas developmental pathway and to recommend what evidence based interventions can be considered as the next realistic steps in South Africas educational development.
The authors of this report conclude that participation in TIMSS and other international assessments have contributed immensely to what we know about the performance of South African learners over time. This is indeed true, and this synthesis report thus fulfils the very valuable and important function of making these results available to a wider audience.
SERVAAS VAN DER BERG, Professor Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch
TWENTY YEARS OF EDUCATIONAL REFORM: HOW ARE WE DOING
National policies and practices
Education for development
Decisions based on data
Stuck at the shallow end
Schools poverty index
International benchmarks: public and independent schools
Mathematics and science performance by gender and age
HOW LEARNERS LIVE AND LEARN
Physical resources at school
School environment and climate
Attitudes and aspirations
Summary of results
LESSONS LEARNED AND POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS
Lessons from twenty years of TIMSS: how do we improve the chances for South African learners?
Policy and programme recommendations for different role players
Notes on contributors