President Jacob Zuma has announced a number of new measures to help boost South Africa’s education system, saying education and skills development were at the centre of the government’s policies.
Delivering his State of the Nation Address to a joint sitting of Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday, Zuma said that as from this year all grade 3, 6 and 9 students would write literacy and numeracy tests that were independently moderated.
The government aimed to increase the pass rate for these tests from the current average of between 35% and 40% to at least 60% by 2014, he said.
“We want to improve the ability of our children to read, write and count in the foundation years,” Zuma said. “Unless we do this, we will not improve the quality of education [in the country].”
In addition, each school would be assessed by officials from the Department of Basic Education and would be given an auditable written report.
Measures were also in place to assist South Africa’s teachers, such as providing them with detailed daily lesson plans. Learners would also be provided with easy-to-use workbooks in all 11 languages.
“Our education targets are simple but critical,” Zuma said. “We want learners and teachers to be in school, in class, on time, learning and teaching for seven hours a day.”
He urged parents to co-operate with the government in making this a success.
Among the performance areas that would be closely monitored were the number of matriculants qualifying for university entry as well as the maths and physical science pass rates in matric.
This followed a continuous decline in South Africa’s matric results, to a 60.6 percent pass rate in 2009.
Zuma said the government wanted to increase the number of matriculants qualifying to enter a Bachelor’s degree to 175 000 a year by 2014.