It’s not enough merely to look at our matric results and pass rates. The really important question is what is happening at primary school level, where there seems to be a critical dumbing down. What gives?
Nearly a century ago, primary school children were confronted with this maths problem: “A man buys 2frac12 gross of bicycles at pound27:16:7frac12 each. How much does he have to pay?”
The sum, from a 1917 example, required at least four steps, says University of Stellenbosch Economics Professor, Servaas van der Berg. One gross was 144, so pupils (as they were then) had to multiply 144 by 2.5, then convert the pounds, shillings and pence to pence, multiply those by the first sum, then convert back to pounds.
Today the questions are simpler: “Pam has R40 she spends R28. How much money does she have left?”
But only 24% of Grade 5 learners could answer that, according to Van der Berg. And if language was the problem, it doesn’t explain why only 14% of Grade Fives could subtract 7 from 105.
Van der Berg has done extensive research on the quality and outputs of South Africa’s education system. Much of his work…
Source : Daily Maverick