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

17 February 2020
Last Thursday, President Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation address (Sona) to parliament. The statement gave recognition to the economic challenges SA currently face, especially regarding electricity supply. More emphasis was placed on the role of the private sector to help solve these challenges. Read more in the Current affairs section. On...

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