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Shocking results from the Annual National Assessments written in 2011

In February last year 9 million pupils from grades 2 to 10 across all nine provinces of South Africa sat for the Annual National  Assessments, tests that gauged their ability to write, read and count.

The results were dismal.

The overall average score was 30 percent, with even lower results in maths and languages across all grades.

A qualitative analysis of the results showed the following:

  • Pupils in grades 1 to 3 performed better, but scores were much lower from grades 4 to 6
  • 21 % of the Grade 3s showed competence in comprehension, that is the ability to understand written text
  • 25 % of Grade 3s showed competence to apply basic numeracy skills to solve everyday problems
  • 49% of the Grade 4s could comprehend what they were reading
  • 8 % of the Grade 4s could change sentences given in past tense to present tense (language usage)
  • 20 % of Grade 5s could correctly convert sentences in the past to the present tense (language usage)
  • 12 % of Grade 4s could respond to simple questions about a story and give reasons that support their answer (thinking and reasoning)
  • 11 % of Grade 5s could answer simple questions and respond to emotions from a story (thinking and reasoning)
  • 23 % of Grade 6s could understand what was happening in the story they were reading (reading and viewing)
  • 5 % were able to write an introduction and conclusion when writing a text
  • the percentage of Grade 6s competent in patterns, functions and algebra ranged from 9 to 45 percent (mathematics)

To read more go to Nontobeko Mtshali’s article on IOL News, by Clicking Here!

To go to the Report on qualitative analysis of ANA 2011 results Click Here! 

 

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Dysfunctional schools must be debated urgently in parliament – DA

The statement by the CEO of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools that approximately 90% of schools are dysfunctional, confirms the need for an urgent parliamentary debate on the state of our education system, the Democratic Alliance (DA) recently said.

The DA suggested a solution-driven parliamentary debate that can provide a platform for an honest and open discussion on education where representatives from all political parties can exchange ideas on pragmatic solutions to important challenges in education.

Topics of such a debate according to them should include:

  • Plans to stem teacher attrition and fill teacher vacancies
  • Addressing basic infrastructure and sanitation backlogs: 2 401 of South Africa’s 24 739 public schools do not have water, 3 544 do not have electricity and 11 450 are still using pit latrines, 22 938 schools do not having stocked libraries, 21 021 do not have any laboratory facilities and 19 037 do not have computer centres (statistics from the National Education Infrastructure Management System Report 2011)
  • Textbook and workbook delivery, e.g. the Limpopo textbook crisis and further reports on book dumping and burning and books delivered in incorrect languages
  • Educator accountability and performance

To read more go to Annette Lovemore’s article on allAfrica by Clicking Here!

South African schools fared poorly in WEF Report

South African primary schools were placed 132th out of 144 countries with regard to quality teaching, and 115th with regard to access by children to these schools. This is the findings of the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report 2012/2013.

A positive point however was that South Africa’s Higher Education and Training sector as a whole was placed at 84th position. This could be because South Africa has a number of world-class universties, according to Graeme Bloch, an independent Education expert.

With regards to the quality of mathematics and science education South Africa was placed second last.

Countries with the best primary education according to the report is Belgium, Finland, New Zealand, Singapore, Netherlands, Iceland and Canada.

To read more go to Alet Rademeyer’s article in the Afrikaans newspaper Beeld by Clicking Here!

To read the WEF Global Competitiveness Report 2012/2013, Click Here!

More than 1 million pupils in South Africa repeat their school year

1. 2 million (11.1 %) of the 11 062 399 pupils that were in the South African school system last year had to repeat their school year. This is the findings of an analysis done by Dr Jean Van Rooyen, researcher at the Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria.

In 2010, 251 669 (24.7 %) of grade 10 learners and 201 918 (22.9 %) of grade 11 learners repectively, repeated these grades. In 2011 the numbers were 242 279 (22.1%) and 185 414 (21.9%) respectively.

Alet Rademeyer in Beeld list repeaters across all grades in 2011 as follows:

Grade Number of learners
Grade 1 155 394
Grade 2   86 346
Grade 3   72 134
Grade 4   80 240
Grade 5   59 572
Grade 6   49 682
Grade 7   37 759
Grade 8   73 871
Grade 9 148 390
Grade 10 242 279
Grade 11 185 414
Grade 12   40 002

To read more go to Alet Rademeyer’s article in the Afrikaans newspaper Beeld by Clicking Here! 

South African research output rises

A recent analysis of South Africa’s scientific performance shows that research outputs rose between 2000 and 2010. During this period South Africa also more than doubled its publication numbers, improved its international publications ranking by two positions, and was ranked 33rd in the world.

These results came from a research paper published by Prof Anastassios Pouris, director of the Intsitute for Technological Innovation at the University of Pretoria, in the South African Journal of Science.

The paper, titled, Science in South Africa: the dawn of a new renaissance? shows an increase in paper publications from 3617 in 2000 to 7468 in 2010.

To read more go to Wilma den Hartigh’s article on BIZCommunity.com by clicking here!

To read more go to Charl Blignaut’s article in City Press by Clicking here!

To read Prof Anastassios Pouris’ paper Click Here!

Reaction to 2011 Matric results

Reaction to South Africa’s 2011 matric results have been varied. The 70.2 % national senior certificate pass rate was welcomed by government and some analysts. This positive response was understandable given that it is the first time since 2004 that more than 70 % of students passed.

However many analysts sketched a different picture. The total number of matric candidates dropped from 537 543 in 2010 to 496 090 in 2011. This means a drop of 8% or 41 453 students. Another statistic analysts pointed out is that of the 923 463 students that started grade 1 in the year 2000, only 496090 sat for the matric exams in 2011, which means the “true pass rate” is actually 38 %.

Afriforum pinned the problem on the lack of mother-tongue education, while Jonathan Clarke told the Mail & Guardian that there is anecdotal evidence that schools are rushing low achieving students through lower grades and then hold them back in Grade 10 or 11. Other analysts criticised the low level at which matric can be passed. To pass matric students had to achieve 40 % in their home language, 40 % in two other subjects and 30% in three subjects.

To read more go to Greg Nicolson’s article on DailyMaverick by Clicking Here!

To read Michelle Jones’ article in the Cape Times Click Here!

 To read Jonathan Jansen’s article on IOL news Click Here!

To read Faranaaz Parker’s article in the Mail & Guardian Click Here!

Africa’s contribution to world science is shrinking

Africa’s contribution to world knowledge is shrinking and more students choose to study overseas, writes Johann Mouton in the Beeld newspaper. There is a need to build out Africa’s ability to produce knowledge he says.

Today’s economy and society are increasingly dependent on knowledge to ensure progress, and internationally universities are assuming the responsibility to produce that type of scientific knowledge and to disseminate it. This trend however is not happening in Africa, and especially in Africa South of the Sahara.

African countries very often lack research laboratoria, and government institutions with abundant resources. Many of these countries experience huge debt problems resulting from factors ranging from civil wars to globalisation. This has made these countries more dependent on international help. The problem with this according to Mouton is that these international institutions (especially the World Bank) rather support Basic Education than Higher Education. Reasons for this are that investments in primary and secondary education result in far better returns, and secondly that Basic Education is seen as a basic human right.

This led to a shift in focus more on basic education with a resultant decline in funding to higher education institutions. This in turn led to a brain drain, with scores of academics streaming to developed countries and to the private sector.

Mouton cites a study by the University of Leiden’s Centre for Science and Technology, indicating that the contribution of Africa South of the Sahara to world science in 1996 was only 0.7% .

Africa’s was at it highest point in 1987 according to Mouton, but since then Africa has lost 11 % of its contribution to world science, and 31 % in Africa South of the Sahara.

Other factors responsible for this downward trend mentioned in Mouton’s article are:

  • Internal factors at African universities: – University adminstrators are very often government appointees, which have an impact on decision making processes.
  • Intellect-pull effect: – postgraduate students that continue their studies at institutions outside their own countries because of lack of resources and inadequate Masters and Doctorate programmes in their home countries. 

Mouton also cites UNESCO’s outward mobility rate, which measures the number of students that studies overseas. This shows that 87 % of Botswana’s students are studying outside the country, and 30 % of students from Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and Mauritius are studying outside their countries. South Africa though has a high inward mobility rate because many of the students from these countries are continuing their studies here, but the most popular destinations are the United Kingdom and the United States.

Mouton pleads for the establishment of a dedicated capacity building centre that will support, strengthen and invigorate African expertise and knowledge, giving as an example the African Doctoral Academy at the University of Stellenbosch.

Johann Mouton is the director of the African Doctoral Academy (ADA) in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Stellenbosch.  

To read more go to Johann Mouton’s original article in Afrikaans that was published in the Beeld newspaper of 2 December 2011. Click Here to access the article.