The Council of Education has approved an Integrated National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy as part of the Basic Education Department’s reaction to the need for urgency in dealing with the low achievement levels of learners in literacy and numeracy.
“The low overall performance levels of our learners were validated by way of the Annual National Assessment (ANA), together with the regional and international benchmark assessments. The council emphasised the fact that the strategy is to address the inadequate performance in literacy and numeracy must be a national one that combines all the provincial initiatives in this area,” the Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said.
She spelled out how the approach will focus on classrooms and teachers as key levers for change in learner performance. It’s going to be guided by the department’s 2012 goal of consolidating the work around the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS), ANAs and the workbooks.
“Provinces, districts and school communities have to focus all their energies on making improvements to reading, comprehension, writing and counting,” Motshekga, who had earlier met with the Council of Education.
The purchasing of school workbooks, where a number of schools purchased a set of three different literacy books and language use, were on the list of teething problems recognized by the department during the 2011 ANAs, and Motshekga explained that all provinces have committed to the further institutionalization of ANA in 2012.
She pointed out that the ANAs has made it easier for the department to identify and go deeper to understand where the problem was taking place, locate which schools were not performing along with the reasons behind non-performance, stressing the necessity for an integrated approach for turn around.
“With the strategy, we are refocusing in a far more comprehensive way, we are focusing on principals and study system. The approach informed us on what the provinces are doing and learn what works in each province, work on information, teacher training and distribution of work books with good quality, as well as mobilising parents to participate…” said Motshekga.
Parents in the Western Cape, whose children are in Grade R, will know next week whether or not their kids are prepared for school next year.
The provincial Education Department is at present performing a pilot study, which is anticipated to assist in improving learners’ literacy and numeracy performance simply by making certain that learners are educated at the correct levels based on their age and emotional maturity.
Talking about the primary reason for the study, Education MEC Donald Grant announced that following the literacy and numeracy test results as well as the repeater rate in Grade 1, the department made a decision to establish a research study to evaluate whether or not five-year-old learners in Grade R were ready for school and in addition identify learning and developmental needs of learners ahead of when they enter into Grade 1.
“Following an analysis of last year’s Grade 3 literacy and numeracy results, it became evident that learners younger than the average age for Grade 3 have a tendency to perform worse than some of their peers. The final results indicate that a number of the younger learners might possibly not have been school ready when they entered Grade 1. They typically started school when they were five years old and turned six during Grade 1,” Grant said.
He pointed out that while parents may enrol their children at five years, the mandatory school-going age is six turning seven in Grade 1 as children developed at different paces, with some coping at the necessary levels for the grade, while others find it difficult to keep up with their peers.
The study is being conducted at 59 community-based pre-schools and 111 public schools by specialists, which include learning support teachers and advisors, curriculum specialists for early childhood development and Foundation Phase advisors.
They offer a holistic assessment of Grade R learners born in 2006 and will interpret the answers to establish whether or not the child has mastered the skills necessary for learning. They will then share the findings with parents and advise them on whether or not their children possess the learning skills needed for Grade 1.
Parents will receive the final results of the assessments by 24 November.
“Once this is completed, the department plans to monitor the progress of the learners who repeat Grade R and those who do not, the levels of parental involvement, what teachers do to address recognized gaps and precisely what the department has undertaken to support these teachers.
“The department will study the impact of these measures on the number of children referred to specialised education support after Grade 3 along with the impact in general on literacy and numeracy results,” Grant explained.
President Jacob Zuma has urged all South Africans to work alongside one another in support of basic education and the future of the children.
Commenting on the 2011 Annual National Assessments (ANA) of numeracy and literacy skills outcomes, Zuma believed the assessments have “reconfirmed the correctness of the government resolution to ensure education is a top priority as well as a social obligation across the country.”
He called on the country to hold up the banner of literacy and numeracy and additionally come together when it comes to making certain that all citizens attain these fundamental and essential skills.
The assessment, which were held in February, consists of numeracy and literacy tests performed among six million foundation phase (Grades 1 to 3) and intermediate phase (Grades 4 to 6) pupils going to government schools.
The ANA results indicated that nationally, Grade 3 pupils performed at an average of 35 percent in literacy and 28 percent in numeracy, while the provincial overall performance stands between 19 percent and 43 percent, with the highest being the Western Cape.
In Grade 6, the nation’s average performance in languages is 28 percent, while mathematics performance is 30 percent. The provincial percent within the two areas ranges somewhere between 20 percent and 41 percent, with the highest being the Western Cape and lowest being Mpumalanga.
Whilst admitting the fact that the outcome was unsatisfactory, Zuma mentioned that they enlighten the nation of learners’ overall performance, and additionally illustrate that where literacy and numeracy programmes are carried out effectively and in a focused way as with Gauteng and Western Cape, overall performance is without a doubt improved upon.
He added the fact that the considerable intervention of testing approximately six million learners is just one of government’s numerous strategies to be able to make certain that the outcome of enhanced quality learning and teaching is accomplished.
“The goal of the ANA is in the first instance to provide government with a means to assess on an annual basis the overall performance of the whole sector – from the individual learner, class, school, district, province along with the country in general. This will certainly make it possible for authorities to effectively evaluate on an annual basis the influence of specific programmes and interventions.
“The ANA outcomes at the same time make it possible for government to recognize points in the system – whether province, district or school – where intervention should be applied, industry professionals will work with the Planning and Delivery Oversight Unit to assist provinces to execute effectively all education programmes and interventions designed to bolster learning and teaching and improved quality of basic education,” Zuma explained in a statement.
In a bid to boost learning and enhance the quality of teaching, government has recently set up programmes, such as the distribution of workbooks to almost six million children in 2011.
Government has additionally announced practical reforms such as streamlining curriculum documents for teachers into the Curriculum and Assessments Statements, in addition to making plans to further improve the language skills of learners by releasing the language of learning and teaching in Grade 1 along with lowering the number of subjects in the intermediate phase.
Government has additionally completed the Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development for South Africa. The main objective is firmly on more targeted, subject-specific teacher education and development which will enhance teacher content knowledge and expertise.
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.
Government has established clear goals and objectives to further improve the caliber of student education and learning in the country by 2014.
Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga made the statement recently during a briefing subsequent to President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address.
During his State of the Nation address, Zuma declared among the list of five critical focal points of government this coming year would definitely be making improvements to education and learning in the country.
Motshekga declared that the government is geared towards enhancing numeracy and literacy levels of Grades 3 and 6 from the current averages of 27 percent and 38 percent respectively, to a minimum of 60 percent within the next three years.
To evaluate progress, she stated that they would frequently monitor overall performance via the independently moderated Annual National Assessments (ANA) project, which has been unveiled recently in all of the public schools in Grades 1 to 6 along with a sample in Grade 9.
“Overall performance of Grade 3, 6 and 9 pupils in ANA are going to be reported during March of every year, beginning in 2011. The ANA is determined nationally which will furnish a benchmark for every individual school within the basic education sector,” said Motshekga.
Emphasis would certainly at the same time be on teacher development, she stated, mentioning that next month her department is likely to release the Integrated Strategic Plan for Teacher Education and development in South Africa.
She additionally suggested that school principals “really should be empowered to manage and control their schools and make certain an effective environment for teaching and learning, and in addition they ought to be held accountable in maintaining high standards of education within our educational facilities.”
The Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (Caps), which incorporated the training of teachers and adaptation of textbooks, is going to be completed this coming year, Motshekga said.
“The Caps will offer teachers with a solitary curriculum document per subject per grade,” she said.
The minister reiterated Zuma’s call of the fact that teachers need to be in the classroom punctually and each and every student must have a text book.