The Annual National Assessment (ANA) results were unveiled by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga in Pretoria.
The assessment incorporates numeracy and literacy tests undertaken by six million so-called foundation phase (Grades 1 to 3) and intermediate phase (Grades 4 to 6) pupils enrolled in government schools.
The assessments were held in February subsequent to pupils having completed their previous year’s grade work. The ANA results indicated that nationally, Grade 3 learners performed at an average of 35 percent in Literacy and 28 percent in Numeracy, while the provincial performance stands between 19 percent and 43 percent, with the highest being the Western Cape.
In Grade 6, the national average performance in Languages is 28 percent, while Mathematics performance is 30 percent, and the provincial percent within the two areas ranges between 20 percent and 41 percent, with the highest being the Western Cape and lowest being Mpumalanga.
The assessments, established by the department, intends to produce a benchmark for all schools in the basic education sector. The assessments are among the essential strategies which have been implemented by the department to further improve learners’ achievement by 2014.
It is designed to provide regular, well-timed, valid and credible data on learner achievement within the education system. As opposed to examinations that are designed to inform decisions on learner promotion and progression, ANA data is intended to be utilized for both diagnostic purposes at individual learner level and decision making purposes at a systemic level.
The report on the ANA will be able to make it possible for the department to evaluate the influence of specific programmes and interventions to boost literacy and numeracy.
Motshekga stated that the department was not shocked by the performance, given the inferior performance of South African learners in recent international and local assessments.
She, having said that, pointed out the fact that the country has its own benchmarks against which they are able to set targets and move forward.
“We have formerly commenced putting in place interventions in line with the problems we have discovered and verified as a result of ANA assessments. Even though there is certainly no quick solution, we are optimistic that our interventions will bear fruit in the years to come, this is especially true considering the fact that we are at this time in a position to measure their impact,” Motshekga said.
She accepted that there appears to have been an under-emphasis on the growth and development of basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy at the foundation levels and additionally stressed the necessity to place a lot more focus on them.
The department’s interventions include things like the distribution of 15 000 foundation phase learning packs to be used by teachers from Grade R to 3. These consist of the development of lesson plans and assessment frameworks.
The department in addition has completed the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) to be phased into the foundation phase in 2012.
“We anticipate that there will be far more emphasis on teaching and assessment, but this has to be reinforced with guided teacher development and suitable readers and workbooks,” the minister mentioned.
In readiness for the CAPS, Motshekga explained the department has performed a feasibility exercise in order to avoid past errors.
“We have trained subject advisors and provinces are moving forward with with the training of teachers. Our classes will in addition be completely resourced to guarantee successful implementation,” Motshekga explained.
Teachers’ unions have likewise expressed no surprise at the results, highlighting the necessity for intervention.
“All of us are certainly not amazed at all but commending the minister for her boldness to release them … we really need to formulate strong interventions in schools,” said President of National Professional Teacher’s Organisation of South Africa, Esrah Ramasehla.
Deputy President of the Professional Educators Union, Malose Kutumela, also stated that the outcomes were expected for the reason that thebassessments were carried out after recognising that the country has not been performing well.
“It’s the first assessments and the outcome was expected. When we talk of the quality learning campaign, we pointed out there was an issue until all stakeholders took part,” Kutumelo said, noting the value for all stakeholders to play a part to ensure that the country is able to compete on an international standard.
The national results on a sample of learners who were in Grade 9 in 2010 is scheduled to be released in July.