Without addressing the weak foundations at the primary and secondary school levels, the government’s flagship policy of free tertiary education is likely to deliver disappointing results. At worst, it will prove downright wasteful. This is one of the hard-hitting conclusions in a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) working paper, "Struggling to Make the Grade: A Review of the Causes and Consequences of the Weak Outcomes of SA’s Education System". The authors, the IMF’s senior resident representative in SA, Montfort Mlachila, and Wits PhD student Tlhalefang Moeletsi, note that the government has had limited success in addressing the problems in education. The paper, which reflects their views and not those of the IMF, aims to provide a data-driven, evidence-based approach to inform the national debate as to what works and what doesn’t when it comes to improving education. They find that there is broad consensus internationally as to which interventions work best: pedagogical interv...

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