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Grammar will still be taught in South African schools

The South African Department recently reiterated that it has no intention to remove the teaching of grammar from the school syllabus. The separate assessment of grammar in the exam will be removed though.

This announcement came in the midst of an outcry from the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), stating that the scrapping of grammar teaching in schools was “problematic” because it would negatively affect literacy, particularly among second language students.

Spokesman for the Department of Basic Education, Graham Whittle said this change is part of an international trend to move away from teaching grammar as a “stand alone”, towards the integration of grammar into the writing and reading components would allow grammar to be taught “in context”.

Naptosa criticized this decision and felt to relegate grammar in this way would neglect two factors:

  • Literacy levels of learners in the formal schooling system have been shown [repeatedly] to be particularly poor.
  • For the majority of learners in South Africa, the language of learning and teaching is English, which in most cases is their second, or even third, language.”

The development of competence in grammar was therefor crucial for education across all other subjects.

To read the original article in the Mail and Guardian Online Click Here!

Majority of SA school leavers are functionally illiterate

Only 1 out of 29 matriculants are functionally literate after matric, according to adv. Paul Hoffman SC, director of the Centre for Constitutional Rights of the F.W. de Klerk Foundation. [Hoffman describes functional literacy as the means to have the reading and writing skills necessary for everyday living and the workplace]. In an article on the transformation of basic education in South Africa, Hoffman refers to the alarming statistics on the functional literacy of black matriculants that went through the school system the past 12 years.

According to statistics from the literacy consultants Hough& Horne in Johannesburg only two thirds of the 1.56 million 6 year-olds that started in the school system 12 years ago, obtained grade 10. Of these 360 000 passed matric at the end of last year.

When these matriculants were tested for functional literacy in English(the language of choice for teaching), it was found that only 15 % of the black candidates were functionally literate.

This means that only 42 000 black school leavers have the potential to do skilled work. When one divides this by province it means that “each province in 2007 delivered only 4600 functionally literate black matriculants”, Hoffman reiterated.

According to Hoffman this means that only 1 out of 29 (3.5%) of black chidren that enters the school system obtained a matric certificate that will enable them to enter the realms of trainability, skills acquisition, higher education and employability – this in an economy where a huge shortage of skills exist. He also points out that South African schools’ drop out rate of 77% over 12 years of schooling is much higher than the UNESCO norm of 21 %. To read more go to Paul Hoffman’s article(see link below) or the Afrikaans article that was published in the Beeld newspaper on 10 April 2008(see link below)

To read Paul Hoffman’s article that was published in the De Klerk Foundation’s Newsletter Click Here!

To read the Afrikaans version of Paul Hoffman’s article Click Here!

To read Beeld Newspaper’s article Click Here!