While South African matric learners battle with maths and science (with only 26.1% scoring above 50% in last year’s matric exams) new research published in the Perspectives in Education Journal has revealed that a majority of matric math teachers in KZN themselves performed poorly in recent assessments.
According to IOL, 253 teachers were assessed using the same questions from matric exam papers to determine their level of knowledge and understanding of maths. The teachers scored an average mark of 57%, with half of them scoring below 61% and a quarter scoring below 39%. Last year, KZN matric learners scored an average pass rate of 53.6%.
The research was authored by Thokozani Mkhwanazi and Sarah Bansilal, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and Deonarain Brijlall, from Durban’s University of Technology.
The matric maths exam is broken down into four levels of difficulty, with the fourth level being the most challenging. Results show the assessed teachers scored an average of 26% on level four questions.
“The results of this study raise concerns about the teaching of mathematics by Further Education and Training (Grades 10 to 12) teachers whose knowledge of school mathematics is so poor,” said Mkhwanazi, Bansilal and Brijlall. “How will teachers design fair assessments for pupils that cover the four taxonomy levels if they are struggling to solve questions on levels three and four of the taxonomy? How will they recognise valid alternative solutions to higher-level questions if they cannot produce an appropriate solution themselves?”.
This comes after news that a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked South Africa’s maths and science education quality last out 148 countries, which the Department of Education dismissed as inaccurate.