This year’s Annual National Assessment results has highlighted the poor state of numeracy and literacy skills in South Africa, raising further questions about the effectiveness of the current education system. The results were published yesterday by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, and the most glaring statistic was the average performance of grade 9 students in mathematics, with the average score being a meager 10.8%.
Whilst the average math results from grades 1 to 3 all exceeded the 50% mark, results from there on out were exceedingly poor. Pupils in Grades 4 and 5 posted an average of 37.3%, whilst grade 6 students faired a little better with 43%.
Educational analyst, Graeme Bloch, said that whilst the country was improving at lower grades, the situation in the education sector remained dire.
“We’ve got to compete globally, so this is a problem. We are doing better on our own base, but what can we do when we have to compete globally?” he questioned.
In the case of grade 12 students, whom are not part of the assessment, major criticism has been leveled at the method used to determine their performance. Recent results have indicated a huge gap in the level of education between the final year of school, and the first year of tertiary education. Despite this, Bloch said the bottom line was that students were simply not performing well in terms of maths and literacy.
He also highlighted a lack of alternatives available to those who were not academically inclined.
“What are the alternatives for kids? What other career options do they have? What happens if you are not academic, and you can’t do maths or you struggle with it? So I don’t think we have the alternatives, but at the same time we have to be learning maths,” he said.
He acknowledged that the country’s youth had the potential to perform and succeed in something. However, there were a number of issues that needed to be explored in order for the current education crisis to be properly addressed. At the same time, he stressed that any solutions should not been seen as bringing about an alternative to maths.
With the education department having been extremely open in their disappointment over the results of the assessments, Bloch added that parents needed to join the department in being critical of how students were performing. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)