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Poorest schools perform worst in national assessment tests

The recent South African Report on the National Assessments (ANA), showed that the poorest schools fared worst in national assessment tests.

The ANA written in February 2011, involving almost six million learners in primary schools throughout South Africa represents one of the most significant proactive interventions by Government to strengthen the foundational skills of Literacy and Numeracy among South African learners.

The report showed that primary school children from the provinces Mpumalanga, Limpopo, and Northwest could not even reach the basic skill levels for literacy and numeracy. The reason for this according to the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga is socio-economical.

Nationally learners in Grade 3 obtained an average of 35 % for literacy and 28 % for numeracy, and Grade 6 learners an average of 28 % for literacy and 30 % for numeracy.

The percentage of schools that could not obtain the basic literacy skills can be summed up as follows:

Province Grade 3 Grade 6
Western Cape 41 41
Eastern Cape 45 67
KZN 48 68
Free State 50 80
Gauteng 53 54
Limpopo 61 85
Northwest 63 83
Northern Cape 66 70
Mpumalanga 67 85

To read the Afrikaans article by Antoinette Pienaar in the Beeld newspaper Click Here!

To read the Report on Annual National Assessments of 2011 Click Here!

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National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) launched

South African Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga officially launched the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) in Pretoria recently and hailed it as a critical milestone in the journey towards quality education in South Africa.

NEEDU will be tasked with providing the Minister with an independent account of the state of schools and the development needs of the school education system through a monitoring and evaluation system.

The unit will also be responsible for identifying the factors that inhibit or advance school improvement; make recommendations for redressing the problem areas that undermine school improvement and to propose appropriate solutions to ensure that schools offer effective education for all learners.

Motshekga highlighted the fact that NEEDU will have the authority to conduct monitoring and evaluation of “schools, districts, provinces and the national department”.

“The entire system has to be monitored and evaluated in terms of how it is able or unable to support schools, learners, teachers, school managers, workers and parents,” Motshekga said.

“However, we emphasise schools because it is schools that are at the heart of our delivery. It is in schools where our main purpose for existence is. They are the most important unit in our work and the success of our sector should be judged by their performance and all our activities should be targeted at supporting schools and making them work.”

To read more on the Dept of Basic Education’s web site Click Here!

Budgeting for improved education in South Africa

Spending on South African education will receive a high priority this year, with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan allocating more than R189-billion to the sector for 2011/12. This is up by 9.7 percent over 2010/11.

During his Budget speech to Parliament in Cape Town recently Minister Gordhan also announced an allocation of R8.3-billion to the Department of Basic Education for school infrastructure, while R1-billion goes to the funza lushaka teacher bursaries and bursaries for top students in natural science.

This allocation will enable the Basic Education Department to replace about 3 627 informal and unsafe school structures, especially in the Eastern Cape to address the lack of proper classrooms there.

More than R75-million would go towards strengthening oversight, monitoring and evaluation. This is for the national assessments in literacy and numeracy for all grades 3, 6 and 9 pupils, that will be conducted in all schools this year. More than 6.6-million learners have been budgeted for.

Improving South African education is high among the government’s priorities, with President Jacob Zuma earlier this month pushing the concept of “the three Ts” – teachers, textbooks and time – for basic education in the country.

To read the original article go to Chris Bathembu’s go to SouthAfrica.info by Clicking Here!

Results of South African matrics are up by 7%

South African students writing the national matric exams in 2010 managed to score a 67.8% pass rate – a 7.2 % improvement on the results from 2009, despite schooldays lost to the Fifa Soccer World Cup and the prolonged public servant’s strike in 2010.

All the provinces registered a marked improvement on the 2009 results:

  • Gauteng: 78.6% (71.8% in 2009)
  • Western Cape: 76.8% (75.7% in 2009)
  • North West: 75.7% (67.5% in 2009)
  • Northern Cape: 72.3% (61% in 2009)
  • KwaZulu-Natal: 70.7% (61.1% in 2009)
  • Free State: 70.7% (69.4% in 2009)
  • Eastern Cape: 58.3% (51% in 2009)
  • Limpopo: 57.9% (48.9% in 2009)
  • Mpumalanga: 56.8% (47.9% in 2009)

Education specialists though are divided on the question of whether such an unexpectedly huge improvement is educationally both believable and reliable as a true indicator of pupils’ aptitudes.

Questions also remain about the performance of children in rural and township schools, in particular whether these  disadvantaged pupils recorded similarly vast increases in achievement.

To read more:
Go to the article on MediaClubSouthAfrica.com by Clicking Here!
Go to David MacFarlane and Kamogelo Seekoei’s article in the Mail and Guardian by Clicking Here!

Click Here to read the SA government’s Report on the National Senior Certificate Examination Results
All the results and profiles of the top schools and students can be found at  IEB microsite

SA’s Department of Basic Education reveals its ICT plans

South Africa’s Department of Basic Education is aiming to utilise technology as a developmental tool for teacher education as well as integrating it into the school curriculum, Mr Enver Surty, Deputy Minister of Basic Education said recently at a gala dinner in Cape Town, at the Microsoft Partners in Learning Worldwide Innovative Education Forum Awards.

Surty said that an inter-ministerial committee had met at the end of October to sign an agreement that binds the Minister of Basic Education, The Deputy Minister of Basic Education, MECs and the ministers of other departments in the achievement of certain goals. While there was a commitment to the provision of quality basic education, Information Communication Technology (ICT) was highlighted.

The commitment is that by 2015 every learner who has passed grade 3 will have had exposure to ICT.

Surty also referred to the undersea cables linking Africa to the world, and vice versa, and said “technology has been taken to the heart of Africa…”

Currently South Africa has about 26 000 schools, of which only 3  in 10 have access to technology and only 1 in 10 schools has access to the Internet, mainly through dial up connections. The government is trying to roll out the Teacher Laptop Initiative which provides teachers with a R130 subsidy per month towards the purchase of a laptop, but the use of technology in teaching methodology is yet to be formally incorporated into the teacher training curriculum.

Surty then referred to the Microsoft Partners in Learning Programme, through which the Department of Basic Education has received R93 million in free software via a national schools’ agreement. More than 25 000 teachers have been trained using the programme’s Teacher Training curriculum and the aim is to foster the development of 21st century skills among learners.

To read the original article by Primarashni Gower on Mail and Guardian Online Click Here!

Plans for workbooks in South African schools criticised

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s plan to spend R750m on workbooks for all primary school pupils in public schools was called into question recently by research that shows a workbook makes no more difference to educational performance than a textbook. The idea of giving children workbooks was first put forward by Ms Motshekga at the end of last year when she listed several changes to the school curriculum, but an initial promise to make workbooks available for the start of this school year was withdrawn when a R522m tender for 45-million pupil workbooks and parent guidelines for monitoring homework was recalled due to shoddy work.

“It is not workbooks that make the difference … (research shows) it is the presence of books that does,” JET Education Services senior researcher Nick Taylor said recently at a Pretoria workshop on what could be done to strengthen education in South Africa.

To read more go to Sue Blaine’s article “South Africa: research challenges plan to supply workbooks” in Business Day on allAfrica.com by Clicking Here!

OR read Alison Moody’s article “SOUTH AFRICA: Row over research into school books”  in University World News Africa Edition by Clicking Here!

Call for comments on Action Plan to 2014: towards the realisation of Schooling 2025

The South African Department of Basic Education is calling for comments on “Action Plan to 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025”

To read more Click Here!