Equal Education (EE) congratulates the Department of Basic Education (DBE) for successfully conducting the 2012 Annual National Assessments (ANA). We are pleased by the expansion of this testing to include grades 1 to 6 as well as grade 9. This is an opportunity to assess the quality of our primary schooling and early high schooling and implement interventions where needed.
We are encouraged by the improvement in the literacy results, and in some instances, the numeracy results. However, we would like to express a number of concerns.
Firstly, is the poor performance of learners in First Additional Languages. EE acknowledges that this is the first assessment of the additional languages, but would like to stress the importance of utilising these results to put in place a strategy or intervention plan to ensure their improvement.
Secondly, and most concerning, is the decline in the numeracy results of grade 6 learners, in that only 10.6% of grade 6 learners passed adequately (by 50% and more). The most shocking of these results is the achievement rate of grade 9 learners in Mathematics, in that only 2.3 % of them passed adequately (by 50% and more). The DBE does not provide valid reasons for these outcomes.
Thirdly, the quality of performance appears to decline as learners move up the grades. On average, learners in the early two grades (1 and 2) perform above 50% in Literacy or languages. Whilst on average grade 4 to 9 learners, perform below 50%. The same trend applies to Numeracy or Mathematics, where learners in the lower 2 grades are performing above 50% and grade 4 to 9 learners perform well below 50%. This shows that learners start off in the system fairly well, and as they progress in the education system their performance declines drastically. Here is an example of this:
Grade 1, 77% of learners achieved above 50% in numeracy,
Grade 2, 68% of learners achieved above 50% in numeracy,
Grade 3, 36% of learners achieved above 50% in numeracy,
Grade 4, 26% of learners achieved above 50% in numeracy,
Grade 5, 16% of learners achieved above 50% in numeracy,
Grade 6, 11% of learners achieved above 50% in numeracy,
Grade 9, 2% of learners achieved above 50% in numeracy,
Fourthly, we are concerned by the simple provision of averages by the DBE, in that they can be misleading and mask the inequalities that currently exist between former ‘model-C’ schools and township/rural schools attended mainly by working class learners. Although the national averages in literacy and numeracy results indicate dire learner outcomes, the reality of the situation is warped by the better results (achieved by learners in well-resourced former ‘model-c’ schools) pushing up the dismal results (achieved by former black schools) to more palatable averages. Disaggregated results will explain the differences between schools, provinces and districts. They will allow citizens to see if there are any real improvements in former black schools and if inequality in outputs still exists in our education system. This will help to show if strides are being made towards improving learner performance in former disadvantaged communities and if through ANA and other interventions government is redressing the inequalities in education.
Fifthly, it is important that these results become instruments for the improvement of individual schools at community level. The Minister highlights in her statement that, “[the] ANA affords parents the right to know how well their children’s schools are performing. It creates a platform for parents to become actively involved in school governance and school improvement.” Access to these results is the only thing which can facilitate this process.
EE calls for:
1. The Minister and DBE must publish the disaggregated results of the ANA and they must be disaggregated by former racial and current economic classification of schools, e.g. ex-DET, ex-Model C etc.
2. EE would like to urge the Minister to release the literacy and numeracy results of learners by each school, each district and province (and not simply averages).
3. Although the Minister’s statement highlights that these results were not unexpected, EE feels that a more rigid implementation of the literacy and numeracy strategy coupled with monitoring will help improve learning and teaching in schools. It is critical that the provinces deliver essential materials such as textbooks to schools on time. We hope that the promise that textbooks and workbooks will be delivered on time in the next academic year is fulfilled. In line with the agreement between EE and the Minister on norms and standards for school infrastructure, a massive effort must go into implementing a material physical upgrading of schools.
For comment please contact
Yoliswa Dwane (EE Chairperson) on 072 342 7747
Doron Isaacs (EE Deputy General Secretary) on 082 850 2111
Kate Wilkinson (Media officer) on 082 326 5353