ASSAf Science – Business Leadership Forum: “Mathematics and Science Education under Spotlight”

The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), in partnership with Investec Johannesburg, hosted the 1st ASSAf Science − Business Leadership Forum on 30 November 2018 at Investec Johannesburg in Sandton.


The goal of the forum is to build relationships between business and the Academy to secure ongoing support of business for strengthening science education in schools in future years and for continued dialogue on and between science and industry.

‘Gateway subjects’ such as mathematics and science are crucial entry subjects into other science-based disciplines. However, there is little evidence-based research on whether investments in science and mathematics from business have made a considerable impact in the South African education system.

The breakfast roundtable discussion moderated by ASSAf President, Prof Jonathan Jansen, sought to gather evidence-based knowledge on the efficiency of existing interventions aimed at improving the level of mathematics and science achievement of secondary school learners in South Africa. Considering that over 80% of Corporate Social Investment (CSI) funding is directed towards educational programmes, the education system has not improved based on national or internal standards, with only 1 % of leaners meeting the international Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) benchmark. Several challenges identified included the curriculum, teacher training, school leadership, lack of a centralised independent monitoring body, among other factors.

It was evident from the discussions that the education system is complex and that there is no one solution. The forum concluded that there is a need for evidence-based approach that will provide scientific evidence on how the governing bodies can improve the education system and how industry can channel their CSI funds most effectively and in a sustainable manner.

The forum was attended by approximately 50 business leaders and academics.

Speakers included:

  • Prof Paul Hobden, Hon. Associate Professor: Science Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Prof Sarah Howie, Director: Africa Centre for Scholarship, Stellenbosch University
  • Ms Gail Campbell, Chief Executive Officer: Zenex Foundation