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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


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


South Africa is undoubtedly moving forward in education

Government has welcomed President Jacob Zuma’s request to serve on UN Secretary -General Ban Ki-Moon’s Education First Initiative which is geared towards advancing the achievement of quality, relevant and inclusive education for everyone across the world.

UN Secretary-General invited Zuma, who will one of ten inaugural Member State Champions for the Education First Initiative. The inaugural states are going to have the duty to give help and support to the UN Secretary-General to guarantee formidable visibility along with the success of the project.

The request to join the Education First Initiative is a clear indication to the reputation of South Africa as a country that is making an effort to undo the influence of centuries of colonialism and apartheid in education as well as other spheres according to Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj. The influence and impact of colonialism on education continues to be an extremely sensitive topic.


Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj

Numerous groups along with the Democratic Alliance have raised their objection to inclusion of South Africa given the recent failures of the Education Department whilst making claims that South Africa has not yet accomplished a great deal in education. This has also been backed up by universities stating that high students entering their institution are not prepared for post high school education.

Maharaj has defended his claims stating that these opinions are incorrect and malicious emphasizing that South Africa could count numerous successes in the last 18 years in reversing the consequence of a racist education system which had been created to suppress the majority. In many respects this statement is true but the we should not forget or discount the reality that after 18 years along with court orders, the education department still cannot deliver books to school children or take responsibility for this.

Among the list of accomplishments has been the splitting up of Basic and Higher Education in 2009 by the President to ensure that each could receive complete attention.

At the Basic Education level, government was forced to contend with the influence of poverty on learner overall performance along with aspects which include weak school management, teacher expertise and know-how, low levels of accountability in addition to limited resources all of which have impacted on the way schools performed.

As stated by Maharaj the government has systematically put into practice programs to deal with all of these flaws and improvement is being made. Most of all the government hopes to achieve the goal of universal access to education.


On top of that, more than eight million children are currently in no-fee schools not to mention the fact that government in addition has been successful in facilitating universal access to primary education. The percentage of girls enrolled in primary, secondary and tertiary education is without a doubt improving substantially. At the same time, the government’s school nutrition programme is currently feeding in excess of eight million children in more than 20 000 schools which has had a beneficial influence on overall performance of students.

Government is furthermore on course to fulfill its goal of having 100% coverage for Grade R by 2014. Grade R enrolment has grown from 300 000 to over 700 000 between 2003 and 2011. The government continues work tirelessly at eliminating mud schools with an injection of 8.2 billion rand been allocated to the programme. Over the next few months the government is expecting to open new schools in the Eastern Cape region replacing the old mud schools. The success rate of matric students has also improved from 67.8% in 2010 and 70.2% in 2011.

Maharaj also stated that government continuously work relentlessly to further improve the quality of teaching maths and science in addition to the teaching of literacy and numeracy. The education department also aims to improve the current university pass rate and providing graduates a greater chance of employment.

In order to improve literacy and numeracy in primary schools, the department of education has implemented Annual National Assessment (ANA) tests make it possible for to objectively appraise the health and well-being of the education system below Grade 12.


“The 2011 ANA results confirmed our belief that the levels of literacy and numeracy are very low, Grade 3 learner average scores are 28% and 35% for numeracy and literacy respectively. We want schools to use the results to produce school development plans so that we can systematically improve education outcomes. The target is to have 60% of Grade 3 learners performing at required literacy levels, at least 60% of Grade 9 learners performing at required mathematics levels, and 175 000 Grade 12 learners pass with a bachelor’s pass by 2014,” said Maharaj.

On the subject of school management, government has established objectives of producing in excess of 40 000 teachers by 2014. Additionally, when it comes to institutions providing Foundation Phase teacher education, the government hopes to increase the number from 13 to 21 within the upcoming four years. A few of these are going to be revitalized former colleges of education.

Regarding textbooks and learning materials, government has directed the Department of Basic Education to enhance the distribution logistics to ensure that books get to schools on time next year in order to avoid the issues that arose in Limpopo and other provinces this year. Even though the government is looking forward, no action has been taken for the text book blunder even after court decisions. One would have to question the true intent and responsibility of government. Many people have expressed the opinion that if this scenario were to happen in the private sector, those responsible would be seeking new employment. President Zuma is currently  processing the Presidential Task Team report on the Limpopo saga and will make a statement as soon as he has completed the process.

“A lot of progress is being made in improving higher education access and outcomes. To reduce finance as a barrier to accessing post school training, allocations for loans and bursaries increased from R3.3 billion in 2010/11 to R5.5 billion in 2011/12, with R17 million focusing on learners with disability.”


Lets hope, for the future of the country,  that these decisions will not be politically based given the fact that the future of the country depends the children and the education they receive.


To express your views and opinion you can call the President Hotline toll-free on 17737 or email president@po.gov.za

Source: SAnews.gov.za


SA pupils preparing to take Annual National Assessment


Over half a million pupils in Mpumalanga are going to be examined to ascertain their literacy and numeracy levels.

Public school children in Grades 1 to 6 and 9 are going to take the Annual National Assessment exams between September 21 and 28.

“Over 591 050 learners in the province will write the ANA exams to test their language skills and their grasp of mathematics,” said Education MEC Reginah Mhaule. “We have already sent examples of previous exams to schools so teachers can prepare themselves and their learners for the coming tests.”

There is a hope within the department that pupils will be able to attain an average score of at least 49% for mathematics and literacy this year.

In 2010, Mpumalanga received the worst results country wide amongst Grade 3, 6 and 9 pupils with an average of 23% for numeracy and literacy tests. This was the very first time that the national Department of Basic Education had carried out ANA exams to evaluate literacy among lower grade pupils throughout the country.

The Mpumalanga province will pay out R70 million this financial year to further improve pupils’ literacy and numeracy at the province’s 1363 state primary schools. The department is planning to releasethe test results for this year’s ANA exams in December.

All test materials and marking memoranda is going to be provided by the national department. In to access the quality of the upcoming ANA exams, the department will centrally moderate a sample of three scripts per class.

Source: SAnews.gov.za


7 million pupils scheduled to write ANA exams

More than seven million pupils in Grades 1 to 6 and Grade 9 are going to write this year’s Annual National Assessments (ANAs), planned to be written between 18 and 21 September.

The Department of Basic Education has prioritised the ANAs, which puts literacy and numeracy skills of the country’s young learners to the test, as a crucial method for overseeing and keeping track of the accomplishment of the goals set in the department’s action plan.

As reported by the department, the objective of the assessments is to ascertain an objective national benchmark by which to calculate literacy and numeracy achievement levels.

ANA evaluation is undertaken by the education department to ensure that progress can be correctly assessed and appropriate intervention designed and implemented where it is actually required.



The ANA definitely won’t be utilized for promotion to the next grade, rather as a guide for teachers to recognize challenges in curriculum coverage as well as to inform their lessons in the classroom.

Teachers will mark these assessments based on instructions furnished by the department, and parents will receive ANA results before the end of October.

The department also explained that the School Governing Body (SGB) will receive, at the start of each year, a written report from the district office which will make it possible for schools to compare its ANA results to those of other schools within the same district.

The department has called out to all parents and guardians to rather encourage their children instead of placing them under any pressure.

Parents need to boost their children’s confidence along with their individual abilities and make certain that their children comprehend that these are not examinations whereby they can pass or fail, but rather tests to determine whether they have any issues with literacy and numeracy while they are still in primary school.

The department in addition has made certain that teachers have the ability to sufficiently prepare for this year’s assessments.



In order to assist learners and parents, the department has made the following resources available on its website:


  •  A qualitative report on what learners were not able to do in ANA 2011 and how these can be improved.
  •  Three sets of test exemplars which illustrate the scope, depth and testing techniques used in ANA tests for each grade.
  •  A complete exemplar test of Mathematics and language for each grade.
  •  ANA guidelines which indicate the expected curriculum coverage at the time of ANA administration which will be at the end of the third quarter of the school year.

To view resources go to the department’s website CLICK HERE


Source: BuaNews