The World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report 2015 – 2016 ranked South Africa last in terms of its quality of math and science education.
The country also performed poorly in the quality of the education system ranking – 138th out of 140 countries.
The Global Competitiveness Report presents the rankings of the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI).
The GCI is based on 12 pillars that provide a picture of the competitiveness landscape in countries around the world at different stages of economic development.
The report contains detailed profiles highlighting competitive strengths and weaknesses for each of the 140 economies featured.
The report showed that South Africa climbed seven places to reach number 49 out of 140 countries.
This improvement was largely thanks to the increased uptake of ICTs – especially higher Internet bandwidth – and improvements in innovation.
South Africa’s education rankings
The fifth pillar is higher education and training, and in this category South Africa performed poorly.
- Quality of math and science education – 140 out of 140 countries
- Quality of the education system – 138 out of 140 countries
- Internet access in schools – 119 out of 140 countries
- Tertiary education enrolment – 93 out of 140 countries
There were some positive indicators, including the quality of management schools and secondary education enrolment.
- Secondary education enrolment – 12 out of 140 countries
- Extent of staff training – 19 out of 140 countries
- Quality of management schools – 24 out of 140 countries
- Availability of specialised training services – 41 out of 140 countries
The report stated that South Africa’s quality of education is a problem, where higher secondary enrolment rates will not be enough to create the skills needed for a competitive economy.
How the ranking works
It should be noted that some of the rankings were not based on testing the performance of students, but rather on opinions of business leaders.
The WEF used an Executive Opinion Survey for its education quality scores. As part of this survey, local business leaders were asked:
- In your country, how would you assess the quality of math and science education in schools?
- How well does the educational system in your country meet the needs of a competitive economy?