Editorial: Boxing smart

2334960 INLSA

EDUCATION MEC Donald Grant is probably the only person in the Western Cape who is “not surprised” at the outcome of this year’s Annual National Assessment results, which highlighted the shocking state of numeracy and literacy among pupils.

Grant’s statement, released by Grant’s office last week, is disturbing. How can the MEC not be surprised – and downright horrified – at the results, which show that just five percent of Grade 9 Western Cape pupils achieved 50 percent or more, compared to two percent for the country as a whole?

More than seven million pupils in grades 1 to 6 and 9 wrote the tests in September. The Grade 9s wrote the tests for the first time this year.

The Western Cape may be tops when compared to the rest of the country, but there is certainly nothing to celebrate in those scores.

If anything, Grant’s statement seems like a copy of the one he issued last year.

He reiterated that this year’s results would be reviewed to identify “where learners are struggling and what concepts they are failing to understand”. With an average score of 17 percent for maths in the Western Cape, it would be fair to assume that they are not merely struggling with some concepts. They are struggling with all.

He also said teachers would be participating in “various training programmes” and that Dinaledi schools (focus schools for maths and science) would be receiving a number of “immediate resources and interventions”. On the face of it, this sounds perfectly valid. But the question is: what will our education system show in the interim? And shouldn’t pupils be evaluated more regularly to ensure we identify problems earlier?

As education expert Graeme Bloch said recently, it is clear that the solutions put in place so far are not good enough.

It’s time to start thinking out of the box.

Einstein was famously quoted as saying insanity was doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If we want different results, we’ll have to try something different.


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