The Annual National Assessment results for 2011 are an indication that the education sector needs to focus even more on its core functions of quality learning and teaching, says Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga.
The results for the standardised national assessments -- for languages and mathematics in the intermediate phase (grades 4 – 6) and in literacy and numeracy for the foundation phase (grades 1 – 3) -- were released at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Tuesday, 28 June 2011.
The assessment of more than 6 million learners found that in Grade 3, the national average performance in Literacy stands at 35%, while the national average in Numeracy was 28%.
In Grade 6, it was found that the national average in Languages was 28%, with a national average of 30% for Mathematics.
In terms of different levels of performance, 47% of Grade 3 learners achieved above 35% in Literacy and 34% of those assessed achieved above 35% in Numeracy. In the case of Grade 6, 30% of learners achieved above 35% in Languages and 31% of learners achieved above 35% in Mathematics.
“This performance is something that we expected given the poor performance of South African learners in recent international and local assessments. But now we have our own benchmarks against which we can set targets and move forward,” said Minister Motshekga.
The Minister said the results showed that there had been an under-emphasis on the development of the basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy at foundation levels and that is “where we need to focus our attention”.
To this end, the Department has provided all learners in Grades R-6 with workbooks in 2011. More than six million learners received one workbook for numeracy and one for literacy, made up of worksheets to improve listening, reading, writing and numeracy skills.
“We have already put in place interventions based on the challenges we have identified and confirmed through ANA,” said the Minister.
These include the Foundations for Learning Campaign launched in 2008 to improve learner performance in reading, writing and numeracy in all schools as well as the revised Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS).
“We have completed the CAPS and will phase them into the Foundation Phase in 2012. They build on the Foundations for Learning and provide more time for languages and mathematics.”
Minister Motshekga said that the curriculum review process indicated a big leap between the Foundation Phase and the Intermediate Phase, which could explain the drop in results seen as children move up the grades.
“So we have reduced the number of subjects in the Intermediate Phase and will begin implementation of fewer subjects in Grades 4-6 in 2013. From 2012, all learners in Grades 1-3 will be required to offer just four subjects,” said the Minister.
“Research has shown that later transition from home language to Language of Learning and Teaching, where they differ, will negatively affect learning outcomes.”
From 2012 all learners whose Language of Learning and Teaching will be English from Grade 4 onwards will have to take English as a First Additional Language from Grade 1, alongside their home language. This is intended to help these learners adjust to the switch to English as the Language of Learning and Teaching in Grade 4.
Interventions have also been put in place to increase emphasis on Early Childhood Development and Grade R for learners, with the Department aiming for universal access to Grade R by 2014. There has been great success in this area, with the number of learners in Grade R almost doubling between 2007 and 2010.
“The evidence is uncontested that children who have attended a centre or school-based preschool programme in the year before school entry perform better on assessments of reading and math skills.” Minister Motshekga said.
Literacy and numeracy skills are fundamental to further education and work and the results of the ANA allow for officials to put specific interventions in place down to classroom and individual level. Going forward, the assessments will also be able to assist the Department to measure the impact of specific interventions to improve numeracy and literacy and ensure every child has access to a quality education and can fulfil their academic and human potential.
Images from the event