Poor Education, Poor Economy and Planning the Escape

The South African education system is in crisis. According to Statistics SA, half of all learners drop out of school before reaching matric.

The government fails learners in poor communities by failing to provide schools with adequate infrastructure and qualified teachers. Inequality in South Africa is further exacerbated by an education system that does not adequately prepare learners for the world of work. Learners from disadvantaged communities cannot compete with their peers from affluent communities.


The online seminar will focus on the paper Poor Education, Poor Economy and Planning the Escape by Prof Philippe Burger. Prof Burger presents data which provides:

-an overview of the quality of education in South Africa as measured by the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study of 2019 (TIMSS 2019) released in late 2020 and augment it with data from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study of 2016 (PIRLS 2016),

-an overview of school dropout numbers and the educational attainment of people in their 20s,

-discuss some of the problems the education system faces, problems that may explain the lack of performance and slow progress made over time, discussion of the broad economic implications of a weak education system,
and propose some much-needed measures to improve educational outcomes.

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  • Prof Philippe Burger
    • University of the Free State
  • Lesedi Masha
    • Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator
  • Thandeka Gqubule
    • SABC

Nancy Msibi

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Project Manager +27 (11) 214 2900-110