Intellectual property is the oil of the 21st century — but not so much for SA, as things stand. The first part of this statement is by Mark Getty, the cofounder of Getty Images and grandson of oil magnate J Paul Getty; it emphasises the value of ideas in an economy gearing up for the future. Uttered in 2000, it rings true today, given the growing influence of disruptive technologies and the onset of digital innovation. Yet SA could be confined to the fringes of the march to this new world, unable to keep up with the rest of the crowd. Much of the blame falls on the Department of Basic Education’s inability to reverse its poor outcomes in maths and science education, which is the critical link to innovation and an ideas-driven economy. Consistent underperformance in maths and science will not go away, making it a critical public policy matter that needs immediate attention and innovative solutions. It is all the more urgent considering that SA has ambitions to become a developmental ...

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