Starting Behind and Staying Behind in South Africa: The case of insurmountable learning deficits in mathematics

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP27/2014
 
Publication date: 2014
 
Author(s):
[protected email address] (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)
[protected email address] (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)
 
Abstract:

This study quantifies a year’s worth of mathematics learning in South Africa (0.3 standard deviations) and uses this measure to develop empirically-calibrated learning trajectories. Two main findings are, (1) only the top 16% of South African Grade 3 children are performing at an appropriate Grade 3 level. (2) The learning gap between the poorest 60% of students and the wealthiest 20% of students is approximately three Grade-levels in Grade 3, growing to four Grade-levels by Grade 9. The paper concludes by arguing that the later in life we attempt to repair early learning deficits in mathematics, the costlier the remediation becomes.

 
JEL Classification:

I20, I21, I28

Keywords:

Mathematics, Learning Trajectories, South Africa, Hierarchical Learning, SACMEQ, TIMSS

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BER Weekly

5 December 2022
Shock waves reverberated through SA last week after an independent panel report found that President Cyril Ramaphosa may have violated his oath of office in handling a theft at his Limpopo farm. While the Phala Phala saga will drag on this week, there are also some important local data releases, including the 2022Q3 real GDP figures (tomorrow) and the...

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