Friday, May 22, 2009

Is Our Education System Being Dumbed Down (Part I): A Statistical Analysis



It has been said that the largest legacy of Apartheid is the discrepancy in education. So I am on a mission again, statistically speaking. Previously I explored and suggested that
more people had emigrated than the numbers suggested, that crime was woefully under-reported, that taxis cause a disproportionate amount of the road accidents and that whites are assured of a violent attack once their neighbourhood reaches a certain level of black residents. This time our education system comes under the spotlight.

There has always been scant data available to answer the question of whether South Africa's schooling and tertiary education systems have been dumbed down. In other words are we graduating people that do not deserve to be graduated? Popular mythology, and our innate sense of observation suggests we are. But we need proof and nobody is talking. Well we do have the extensive research on IQ, and I happen to have the population estimates for the various age groups, divided by race. What is more, I happened to stumble across a Department of Education (DOE) document, giving a statistical breakdown of learners for the year 2007. So by combining the 3, using a Monte Carlo simulator and some deductive reasoning, I have made some really interesting discoveries.

Let me start by saying that the ANC is hellbent on making sure everything is a reflection of society's demographics, even though the weight of evidence suggests that the various race groups are differently endowed intellectually.

Please bear the following in mind when you look at the numbers:

A bachelors degree requires at least an IQ of 110, probably more like 115-124.

A medical doctor/masters degree requires at least an IQ of 125 - 130.

An Advanced nation requires an average IQ above 90.


University students need to be above average in intellect. That is the point of tertiary education. Therefore a student should at least be above the universal average of 100, at a bare minimum.

First I determined the number of potential Grade 12 students, by using the population estimates. I arrived at a figure of 995,180. Combing this with the DOE data meant that 37% obtained a matric, but only 8.59% passed with university exemption. But the DOE data does not give you the numbers that pass by race, therefore you cannot relate the data to university entrance and graduation data. However I had the population breakdown and IQ data, therefore I could derive an average IQ. Once I had an average IQ I worked backwards, using the matriculation numbers and a Monte carlo simulator, and arrived at approximate IQ levels for a SG and HG matric, to be tested.

A Standard Grade Matric requires an IQ of 75.

A Higher Grade Matric with University Exemption requires an IQ of 89.


Given that a recent study of black students at Wits University yielded an IQ of 84, I was quite happy with this.

Now that I had the IQ benchmarks I could use the IQ data, by race, to determine the potential graduation numbers at IQ levels of 75 and 89.

Given that the actual number was 368,217 and I derived a number of 364,707 I was quite confident the IQ of 75 was approximately accurate at the SG level. I repeated the same thing for the HG level.

Compare the last two graphs. You will notice the white numbers jumped up. The estimated numbers at the HG level were 132,253, which is the first anomaly. The actual HG passes were 85,454. Therefore the actual numbers were a lot lower than was anticipated. You would intuitively think it was because the required IQ was higher. Well this couldn't be, because a raising of the IQ to 95 approximately fits, but the black numbers plummet to 15,887, which does not correspond with black enrollments at university of 79,185. Anyway, for now, we will leave the HG level at an IQ of 89.

In summary, you can see that undoubtedly the schooling has been dumbed down to create the illusion of an improvement in graduation numbers. I would have at least expected a HG IQ level of around 100. Unless, of course, you want you refute the IQ research and proclaim that the error is there. What is disturbing, is that I approximated that a HG Matric required an IQ of 89. This is ridiculously low, and I was hoping it was clearly an error. But apparently not, since the black students measured at Wits were 84 and those at Venda were measured at 78. No wonder universities are starting to reject matric as a measure of intellect, and are insisting on their own entrance exams. Can Apartheid be blamed for low IQ levels? I doubt it, but I am only reporting my findings. You arrive at your own conclusions.

Look out for Part II, which includes answering the UCT Medical School affirmative action debate.

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