SA pupils can’t read, count
source: timeslive, by Katharine Child
This is, in short, what the annual national assessment of 7million pupils in grade 1 to 6, and Grade 9, reveal.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga yesterday announced the results of the most comprehensive assessment of the education system.
They were a far cry from the department’s target, which calls for 60% of pupils to pass numeracy and literacy tests with a mark of at least 50% by 2014.
The only reason for celebration was that the department was able to complete the “massive undertaking” of testing 7million pupils’ ability to read and do maths.
Some of the shocking statistics in the results include:
- 66% of Grade 6 pupils got 29% or less for mathematics;
- Only 24% of Grade 3 pupils got above 70% for proficiency in their home language;
- Not a single pupil in Grade 9 in Limpopo got above 80% for maths
- Only 2077 of 944397 pupils in Grade 6 got 70% or more for maths.
The poor maths results confirmed a recent World Economic Forum financial development report that rated South Africa’s science and maths education the worst of 62 countries surveyed.
Grade 9 pupils scored the worst results in maths. Their average score was 13%, with only 2.3% of them scoring more than 50%.
Motshekga said she was “concerned about the maths scores”, which she said explained why so few pupils chose maths as a subject for matric.
“They have seen their friends falling. We have to strengthen maths and science interventions.”
Another finding is that literacy and numeracy competency starts off relatively high in Grade 1 and Grade 2 but declines each year .
Mothshekga said weaker Grade 6 and Grade 9 test marks showed that pupils had a poor foundation. She did, however, note some improvements from last year’s results.
The Grade 3 literacy average improved from 35% last year to 52%, and numeracy from 28% to 41%.
But a Stellenbosch economics researcher who specialises in education, Nicholaus Spaull, was sceptical about the improvement in the results.
“I have never before, with any other education test, seen marks jump like that. They improved far too much to be plausible,” he said.
Spaull said last year’s and this year’s results could not be compared because last year’s tests were written in February and this year in September, after revision.
Wits education professor Brahm Fleisch said care was needed when comparing test scores.
Fleisch said the real story of the assessment was that they had taken place.
“The Education Department must be commended for managing to pull off a countrywide comprehensive testing system. This is an important milestone.
“The department is starting to put pieces of the education system together.
“They have captured the results of 7million pupils in a very short time and released them quickly.
“We are beginning to get a system which is a precondition to getting the learning right. Schools and provinces now know what is working and what is not working.”
Education Department director-general Bobby Soobrayan said the assessments would provide the department with information that would help teachers know what they needed to teach and when, and to determine whether the class or the individual pupil had a problem.
Every school with average marks below 50% will be listed as under-performing.
He said management officials at under-performing schools would be assessed.
Steps would be taken to ensure that there were sufficient textbooks.
SCHOOLGIRLS BEAT BOYS
GIRLS seem to be the brighter sparks and are scoring higher marks at school than boys. This is according to results from the 2012 annual national assessment.
For both maths and literacy tests, girls’ averages were better than those of boys in all grades.
- In Grade 3, girls obtained an average of 42.9% for maths, compared with the 39.6% boys scored.
The difference between girls and boys’ literacy was even bigger.
- In Grade 3, girls obtained 56.1% for literacy and boys got 48.2%
- In Grade 9, girls scored 38.8% and boys 32.6%.
Schools were divided into five categories, measuring the socioeconomic status of the pupils.
Unsurprisingly, quintile one schools, the poorest schools, got the lowest averages, whereas public schools achieved the highest.
Children in Grade 1 at the poorest schools started off with lower scores, at 53.6% in home language. Pupils at the wealthiest schools achieved 70%.
But by Grade 9, marks had dropped to an average of 31.7% at the poorest schools and 53.9% at the wealthiest ones.