We already know that teachers in black schools teach on average three and a half hours per day and in former white schools six and a half hours in the same day. We have ample evidence that the subject-matter content knowledge of SA teachers is dangerously low. And we have seen data before that more than a quarter of those enrolled drop out in the first year of university studies.

Two disappointingly weak education reports surfaced in the public arena last week. One was the final report of the Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission (ITRC) of the University of Cape Town (UCT). The other was an IMF working paper titled “Struggling to Make the Grade”, which purports to explain the weak outcomes of SA’s education system. At first glance the two reports could not be more different — the schools report comes from that bastion of global capitalism, the IMF, while the university report is produced by a group of progressive personae, whose commission was chaired by the former president of the Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo), Mosibudi Mangena. And yet both reports are unoriginal and ineffectual and therefore unlikely to make a dent in the set of problems each seeks to address. The schools report hardly deserved airtime in the media for it recirculates stale data other SA researchers have reported on in recent years. But it comes from the IMF w...

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