Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Tuesday put a determinedly upbeat spin on an international study that placed South Africa right at the bottom for science and second last for maths, saying she was pleased with the results because South Africa had improved more than any other country. The Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) is published by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement and is the world’s longest-running assessment of maths and science education. It is carried out every four years and the results of its 2015 study, which included 59 countries, were released on Tuesday. The tests are administered to grade 4 and grade 8 pupils in most countries, but in South Africa they are done by pupils in grades 9 and 5 instead. Grade 9 and grade 5 pupils came second last in maths, while grade 9s were at the bottom of the pile in science, trailing other African countries such as Botswana and Morocco. Grade 5s did not partici...

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