Johannesburg - Education in South Africa is in serious trouble, the FW de Klerk Foundation said on Thursday.

“Poor education lies at the root of most of South Africa's problems, including unemployment, poverty and inequality,” it said in a statement.

“Without a dramatic improvement in education, the crevasses in South African society will continue to deepen. Education is a debt that the present generation owes to future generations.”

Education was universally accepted as a catalyst for economic and human growth and was a fundamental human right that affected democracy and political stability.

The recent Limpopo textbook scandal was simply a symptom of a much wider malaise. The education crisis was also not the result of a lack of resources.

In 2011, South Africa's expenditure on education was six percent of Gross Domestic Product. In the 2012/13 financial year, education would account for almost R207-billion, it said.

South Africa's education system was ranked 133rd out of 142 countries in the world by the World Economic Forum, the foundation said.

The system was failing to achieve basic standards of numeracy and literacy in grades three and six.

One of the main factors determining success or failure was the quality of teachers and principals, the foundation said.

“Perhaps the most damning statistic presented by the National Planning Commission is that teachers in black schools teach an average of only 3.5 hours a day, compared with 6.5 hours a day in former white schools.” - Sapa