This is the finding of the annual national assessment (ANA) released this week which indicates that South Africa’s education system is in crisis.
Meanwhile the Democratic Alliance (DA) has said it is saddened, but not surprised, at the very low Grade 9 numeracy and literacy levels. The party also implores the Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshekga, to now implement the findings of the various commissions of inquiry she has recently presided over.
The average marks achieved by learners nationally in the 2014 assessments are:
The crisis shows itself in the senior phase, with the most alarming results exhibited in Grade 9. This year, for the first time, a pilot project involving a smaller sample of Grade 7 and 8 learners was carried out; the maths results average about 20% and point to learning deficits in earlier Grades catching up with learners by this senior phase.
The Minister stated that “The results of the 2014 ANA indicate that the performance of learners in the senior phase requires immediate and radical intervention.”
The DA agrees. We are in the midst of a full-blown crisis in education. With only 3% of Grade 9s considered numerate, it is clear that we are not preparing our children for success in the workplace.
This has been going on for years. The Minister has been made aware of this crisis by numerous reports. The fact is that the majority of leaners are not appropriately literate or numerate. In addition, there have been numerous reports indicating that the majority of math teachers are not able to pass the math tests for the grades they teach.
The international assessments such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and organisations like the World Economic Forum have confirmed that our education system is amongst the worst in the world.
Given that 80% of children learn in a language that is not their mother tongue, the First Additional Language results are pertinent. The average mark in Grade 9 for First Additional Language was 34%. This is of particular concern when one considers that this is most often the language of learning and teaching.
While some improvements have been seen in the lower grades, it is a fact that even at Grade 4 level, children are struggling to do sums that contain words. This goes back to literacy. The two are inextricably linked.
We cannot continue to tolerate this, as we are compromising our children’s future. And we cannot deny that these results are undeniably linked to the quality of teaching in our schools.
The Minister stated this morning that she and her officials know what the problems are, and that, by the end of next year, the average Grade 9 maths mark would be 40%. We will hold her to every word.
The minister has a responsibility the future generations of this country to act urgently and decisively.