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THERE has been a marked increase in the annual national assessment (ANA) results but the average pupil mark remains at less than 50 percent.
The findings were announced by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga at a media briefing in Tembisa yesterday.
More than seven million pupils in grades 1 to 6 and 9 wrote the tests – which aim to provide a snapshot of the maths and literacy levels in the country – in September.
The assessment of pupils revealed low levels of literacy and maths.
“Following the release of ANA results in June 2011, a national strategy to improve literacy and numeracy achievement in all schools was implemented,” Motshekga said.
“The strategy assisted in ensuring that the quality of education is improved dramatically.
“It did this by strengthening the capacity of teachers to deliver the literacy and numeracy curriculum in particular.”
She said this had been done by providing textbooks and workbooks, and by providing pupils with exemplars to assist in preparing for the tests.
Grade 3 results had improved in both maths and literacy.
Grade 6 pupils wrote either home language and first additional language tests this year, rather than the single literacy test last year where pupils had achieved an average of 28 percent.
While the results were not comparable, this year Grade 6 pupils achieved 43 percent in home language and 36 percent in first additional language.
There was a decline in the Grade 6 maths results.
Grade 9 pupils wrote the tests for the first time this year, passing the tests an average of 43 in home language, 35 percent in first additional language and 13 percent for maths.
The Western Cape produced the highest percentage of pupils who achieved marks of 50 percent or more.
They did so in categories including Grade 2 literacy, Grade 3 maths and literacy, Grade 4 maths and home language, Grade 5 maths and home language, Grade 6 maths, and Grade 9 maths.
Education MEC Donald Grant said: “We are pleased to note the reported improvement in the Annual National Assessment results in the Western Cape.
“We will study the details of the ANAs as soon as they become available.”
Motshekga said international and regional studies had long shown that pupils achieved low levels in reading, writing and counting.
This had led the department to review the curriculum.
“We are very happy to also confidently say through the new Curriculum Assessment and Policy Statement, the system is now safely sailing out of its OBE troubled waters and moving towards safe waters.
“Fundamentals are in place and what is now needed is traction to move forward as we should.”
Education expert Graeme Bloch said the increase in results obtained by pupils showed that education could be improved.
“It’s just a start. There is a lot of work that needs to be done.
“The ANA is proving its usefulness in understanding problems. The ANA need to go with a range of improvements and not just in the classroom but around the classroom as well.”
Nicholas Spaull, an education and poverty researcher at Stellenbosch University’s Department of Economics, said last year’s test results could not be compared to this year’s findings.
“We don’t think such large improvements could take place in such a short space of time. That is highly improbable,” Spaull said.