Tag Archives: literacy

Annual National Assessment results expected to be released tomorrow

Department of Basic Education logo2


South Africa awaits with abated breathe for the release of the 2013 Annual National Assessment (ANA) results and judge just how well learners are doing when it comes to numeracy and literacy. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is expected to release the results tomorrow.

The main objective of the ANA testing process is to test the progress of learners around the country and their achievements in numeracy and literacy.

The ANA testing forms the backbone of the department of education’s Action Plan 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025.

During this years annual testing process, more than 7 million learners from grades 1-6 and 9 took the tests. Given the fact that literacy and numeracy are the universally accepted key skills for successful learning, the ANA tests focus on these critical skills.

The ANA tests are not utilized in any way to assess a learners progression or promotion status. The main idea behind the ANA tests is to obtain a better insight into the learners current achievements in literacy and nunnery and whether or not they need additional help in class or not.

The ANA tests help teachers and educators understand their students better and whether or not their students measure up to expectations. The ANA test results enables teachers and educators to adapt and change their lesson plans to better fit their classes. The results are also used by district officials to improve or adapt school improvement plans and offer the appropriate support to schools that they identify in need of help.

Not only are learners waiting to see how they did on the tests, so is the Department of Basic Education and Minister Angie Motshekga. Not only do the ANA tests give an idea of how our learners are doing in literacy and numeracy, it also provides information about the progress of the Ministry of Education and their programmes to improve the country’s education.

For more information about the Annual National Assessment – click here

Source: SAnews.gov.za


SA Education Department trying to defend it reputation once again

South Africa Schools


Once again, the Department of Education is on the defensive and trying to defend its reputation after claim have been lodged that it has failed to deliver on its mandate.

According to reports, the Western Cape based Progressive Principals Association (PPA) is threatening to sue the government and department of education for it failure to deliver on it mandate and tackle the numerous issues and problems in the country’s education system ranging from poor literacy and numeracy skills to delivering learning material.

In a statement released by the education department it states that the government has made progress is a number of areas with an overall improvement in the country’s education system, including the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) programme, early childhood development and the School Nutrition Programme, among others.

Panyaza Lesufi, the education departments spokesperson, has called on all those individuals who are making baseless claims to check their facts prior to publishing “falsehoods that mislead the public.”

Lesufi cited the ASIDI programme where more than 40 schools have been handed over to communities in the Eastern Cape which created more than 7000 jobs during the building process and spent over of R1.28 billion.

“The programme is largely emphasised in the Eastern Cape but its impact can be felt across the length and breadth of the country. The success story of ASIDI goes far deeper than that of bricks, metal and cement. It tells of a human story of perseverance and triumph,” said Lesufi.

Lesufi also stated that the Early Childhood Development (ECD) has also progressed since 1994 with over 19500 registering for the programme. Not only have the number of children in the ECD increased, so has the quality of the programme according to the department.

According to the department, the School Nutrition Programme now provides quality meals to over nine million learners in over 21 000 schools every school day. At the inception of the food programme, meals were only available to primary schools but this has now been extended to secondary schools. Now all learners are provided with quality meals in contrast to the past where only targeted learners were provided daily meals.

Lesufi reiterated that the School Nutrition Programme has been a massive undertaking of the government and it has also promoted the access, attendance and participation in education for learners from the poorest communities. The goal of the Integrated School Health Programme  was to scale up school health services to reach all learners in the schooling system.

The department of education has also claimed that the increase in the pass rate of matric students in their final exams has increased by 3.7% in 2012. Many involved in the education sector of South Africa feel that this figure were slightly fudged and marks were adjusted.
The education department also claims that it has delivered over 50 million textbooks every year as part of its commitment to improving literacy and numeracy skills of learners. Don’t tell the learners in Limpopo about this. I am positive the learners in the province will have a different opinion to this claim.


Recent research studies and reports

Prior to calling on all those who make “baseless claims”, it is Panyaza Lesufi along with Minister of Education who should read the numerous studies and reports that have been released over the past few months relating to the standards and quality of education in the country.

A research study by Nicholas Spaull from the University of Stellenbosch, indicates that Grade 6 pupils are out-performing their teachers in basic mathematics. Read more…

Or perhaps government and ministers should read the comment by Dr Nick Taylor who has called South Africa’s literacy levels a national catastrophe and a disaster for the country and future economic growth. Read more…

A recent study undertaken by Michèle Stears and Angela James from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, has shown that high school matric results are generally a poor indicator of 1st year university performance. In order to improve upon the performance of university students would require that the Department of Basic Education equip high school students with the required skills and competencies as outlined in the department’s policy documents. Students entering university are ill-equipped and do not possess these basic skills and competencies to succeed at university. Read more…

The Council on Higher Education (CHE) also published a damning report on the state of university graduates in the country. The report outlines that the leading cause for the atrocious student performance at university level is primarily due to the inadequate academic performance at school. The report goes on to say that given the current schooling curriculum and systems, there is little hope that the South African schooling system will be adequately be able to prepare matriculants to levels required by higher education institutions in the near future. Read more …

According to the World Economic Forum Global Information Technology Report 2013, South Africa is the second worst in world when it comes to mathematics and science and 4th worst when it comes to quality of the educational system. Read more…

Before the government or education department tells any critics to check their facts before making baseless claims, it is the Department of Education and all those responsible for the country’s education system who should read all the research and studies that is being done regarding the state of the country’s education system before claiming victory in the fight to improve literacy and numeracy in our education system.

Source: Image from dailymaverick.co.za


13% of Grade 2 pupils in South Africa cannot read a single word

Dr Nick Taylor - head of the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit
Dr Nick Taylor – head of the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit


Dr Nick Taylor has called South Africa’s literacy levels a national catastrophe and a disaster for the country and future economic growth. Speaking at the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) breakfast, Dr Taylor revealed some alarming statistics about the country literacy levels and appealed to government to do something about it.  Dr Nick Taylor, the head of the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (Needu) at the Department of Education, has has called on government to make reading a national priority.

On average a grade 2 pupils should have the capability and literacy level of reading between 60 – 70 words per minute, however research has shown that this is not the case in schools in South Africa. In addition, pupils that progress to grade 5 are continue to struggle and are falling even further behind their classmates.


Shocking Revelations

Research done by Needu has revealed some alarming and highly disturbing facts that there are students that are unable to even read a single word. Research results show that roughly 13% of pupils could read a single word from a simple test that was given to them. Grade 5 pupils on average, are reading about 80 – 90 words per minute. According to Dr Taylor the current literacy level in country are a national catastrophe and disaster.

In other report and studies undertaken by Needu has revealed that the country’s education system is failing due to the fact that teachers are unable  or qualified to teach and they did not have a rasp of the curriculum.  If teachers do not know what the curriculum is about, then how are they capable of teaching or allowed to teach. The only individuals who will suffer are the pupils themselves through no fault of their own and the chances of succeeding at school or as adults does not look promising.

The Needu research was conducted in 133 schools around the country. The question coming out of the studies and research is that if pupils are not able to read by grade 5, then the Department of Basic Education, government, and President Zuma need to answer is what are teachers doing? What is government doing about this national disaster and failure of the education system? What are school management teams and school principals doing about student assessments? Where are the parents or guardians of these children doing about their children who are unable to read?

Dr Taylor asked “How can they allow the children to be far behind after five years? Are they not watching them?”

The studies reveals that schools and teachers are devoting too much time to group reading instead of assigning more time to individual reading. Pupils also showed evidence that they are unable to succeed and struggle with comprehension tests given to them.


Scarcity of books in schools

The studies also revealed an alarming fact that the majority of foundational classes in the 133 schools lacked an efficient number of books. There were only 2 or 3 books available to read over the course of 1 year. At this level, pupils should be reading at least one or two books every week. If there are not enough books to read, how can you expect or blame the pupils for not being able to read. The government should be held directly accountable for this national sister given the fat that they are responsible for the the education of all citizens of South Africa.

Dr Taylor stated that school leaders and management should monitor student performance and has pleaded with teacher unions to address the quality of teaching.

Apart from the  Department of Education and Government, parents and guardians also need to accept part of the blame and responsibility for the literacy levels of their children and at our schools and need to get involved in their children’s education and assist them. However, it is the primary responsibility of the schools to make sure that pupils can read independently by Grade 2.

Basil Manuel, the president of Naptosa, stated that children should read anything that is available to them even if it food packaging labels on cereal boxes in order to grasp and improve their basic language skills.


Contact details:

For any comments and/or feedback, feel free to contact The Presidency or the Department of Basic Education.

President Zuma at The Presidency – CLICK HERE

Minister Angie Motshekga at Department of Basic Education – CLICK HERE


The importance of literacy, reading, and writing in modern society

literacy skills 1

In order to succeed in modern life, your career, and improve your quality of life, it is vital to have good literacy skills. It is more than just being able to read, but rather how you use written information to function in modern society. We can all agree that being able to read and write effect our daily live in so many ways. It has an impact on the way we think, career progress and earning potential, and helps us to fit into our environment and social circles.

Literacy is helps us to communicate through reading and there is even a literacy day set aside by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) to help promote the importance of literacy.

Being able to communicate, read and write is a priority and the ultimate investment we can make for our future. The goal of Unesco and literacy day is to one promote literacy such that one day every child will have the ability to read and in turn be able to use these skills to gain independence and autonomy. Individual with good literacy skills are far more likely to find good paying job, earn a decent salary, and have access to training opportunities. On the other hand, individual with weak literacy skills are more likely to find themselves unemployed, and if they are employed, it probable that the jobs are low paying, offer poor hours or working conditions.

Research done by Unesco Institute for Statistics show that there are roughly 774 million adults who cannot read or write of which almost 60% are women. Unesco Institute for Statistics estimates that some 123-million youths are illiterate and that only 87% of females have basic literacy skills compared to 92% of males.  Statistics for South Africa estimate that roughly 8.5 million adults are illiterate according to Unesco. Local research done in South Africa estimate that about 4 million people have never attended school. Even with these bleak statistics, the number of students graduating from universities is growing year by year.

literacy skills 2

There is no doubt that literacy is a fundamental tool to achieve success and further career opportunities and, on a whole, improve the quality of life individual and communities they live in. Having the skills to communicate, read, and write is vital for social and economic development. It allows individuals to expand their knowledge and understanding of society.

Literacy is not simply the ability to read and write, but rather the ability to use these skills and communicate effectively. In modern society and our globalized world, literacy is far more diverse that simply reading a book and understanding what we have read. Digital literacy, for example, is the ability to understand and use information across multiple formats from computers to the internet and cellphones.

Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media in a variety of forms. Cultural literacy is the ability to understand and appreciate other cultures. It requires a person to examine and understand the different beliefs, values and traditions of others.
Having a population with high literacy skills also helps a country as a whole and improved the ability of a nation to tackle different social challenges it faces. Countries with strong literacy skills generally have a better standard of health and outcomes for individuals. Highly literate populations and communities are in a far better position to deal governance in a highly diverse society.

Literacy is a fundamental human right and the basis for any individual’s ability to learn. It is essential for social and human development and provides individual the skills and empowers them to transform their lives, in turn, an improved standard of health and ability to earn a higher income.


Lower grade learners making progress in numeracy and literacy

The outcomes of the Annual National Assessment (ANA) for 2012 have been published and indicate that the numeracy and literacy general performance of South African learners in the lower grades has somewhat improved.

“The Annual National Assessment was a massive undertaking with over seven million learners writing. This is an achievement in itself, showing teachers are getting it right and learners are making progress. Learner performance in the Foundation Phase Grades 1, 2 and 3 is pleasing. There is progress also in the Intermediate Phase Grade 4, 5 and 6,” said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

The ANAs are standardised assessment tests that all schools are forced to conduct in exactly the same grade-specific language and mathematics for Grades 1 to 6 and Grade 9.

The newly released outcomes revealed that in Grade 3, the national average performance in literacy stands at 53% in comparison to the 35% in 2011 — a marked improvement of 17% from previous year 2011.



Grade 3 numeracy also exhibited improvement with learners performing at an average of 41% as opposed to 28% in 2011. Once again, a fantastic change for the better of 13%. This will hopefully ensure that learners pursue mathematics and science in later grades.

There are still grave concerns as to the reasons why fewer learners are taking Mathematics and Science. The minister remarked that the rationale behind this is due to the fear of failing.

The national average performance in language for Grade 6 learners was 34% for the Home Language and 36% for the First Additional Language versus 28% in 2011. The First Additional Language was not assessed in 2011, and these results would serve as a benchmark in the years ahead. Motshekga remarked that the First Additional Language was critical considering that the bulk of black learners studied in a language that was not their home language.

In Grade 6 Mathematics, the average performance was 27% compared to 30% in 2011. Provincial performance ranged between 21% and 33%.



The national average performance for Grade 9 learners in language at 43% Home Language and 35% First Additional Language. Provincial performance ranged between 30% and 40%.

A major shock for some of the nation’s top educators is the 13% mathematics pass rate for grade 9 learners. Provincial performance ranges between 9% and 17%. These outcomes indicate to a large extent the key reason,amongst other reasons, that explains why there exists a high failure and dropout rates at Grade 10 and 11.

The national average performance for Grades 1, 2, 4 and 5 literacy in 2012 is as follows:

* Grade 1 – 58% (59% in 2011)
* Grade 2 – 55% (52% in 2011)
* Grade 4 – 43% Home Language (34% in 2011) and 34% First Additional Language
* Grade 5 was 40% Home Language (28% in 2011) and 30% for First Additional Language

The national average performance for Grades 1, 2, 4 and 5 in numeracy in 2012 is as follows:

* Grade 1 – 68% (63% in 2011)
* Grade 2 – 57% (55% in 2011)
* Grade 4 -37% (28% in 2011)
* Grade 5 – 30% (28% in 2011)

The 2012 ANA’s do indicate proof that there are breakthroughs at the lower end of the system however, at the same time, there are significant issues with higher grades which appear to be stagnating.

A superb benefit as a result of the annual testing is the fact that it discloses which schools were in need of urgent assistance. A further priority was making sure that each and every learner had access to a minimum set of textbooks and workbooks required which are mandatory in accordance with the national policy.

Source: SAnews.gov.za