A national crisis in education is simmering every day and if we do not take consistent and deadline-driven steps and corrective action, it could be devastating for the future of South Africa.
Consider these facts: worldwide, South Africa scores the lower in education than most countries in Africa. According to research on the quality of primary education in maths and science, even though our country is the richest, we are the worst- performing nation when it comes to educating our nation and future leaders.
These stats are heart-wrenching: South Africa ranks 130 in the world for the quality of its education system, far below Kenya (32), Botswana (48) and Malawi (49).
Even Zimbabwe, at 46, with all its problems, scores far higher than South Africa on education.
The worst performer among the 139 countries in the competitiveness rankings is Chad, but even it surpasses South Africa when it comes to the quality of primary education. Only two countries are worse than South Africa when it comes to maths and science education. South Africa ranks 137, followed by Timor-Leste and Angola.
Sure, the debate over what ails education in our country enjoys widespread consensus: improve the performance of our primary and secondary school students and provide access to affordable, high-quality higher education to more people. But how the country goes about filling this prescription is a matter of debate.
Clearly fixing our education requires the co-ordinated efforts of various sectors. Central to the effort, however, must be early childhood education development followed by tertiary education.