Cape Town - The country’s Grade 9 pupils obtained a “worryingly low” average mark of 13 percent in maths in annual national tests.
The results of the Annual National Assessments (ANA), which tested the numeracy and literacy skills pupils in grades 1 to 6, and the maths and language skills of Grade 9 pupils, were released by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Monday.
More than seven million pupils were tested.
Motshekga said the Grade 9 maths results were cause for great concern – only 2 percent scored above 50 percent.
The Western Cape had the highest average in Grade 9 maths – 16.7 percent.
The average in home language for Grade 9 was 43 percent, and 35 percent for first additional language.
However, it was not all bad news.
“Learner performance in the foundation phase [grades 1 to 3] is pleasing. There’s progress also in the intermediate phase [grades 4, 5, 6],” Motshekga said.
The results showed that:
* In Grade 3 the average in numeracy was 41 percent, compared with 28 percent last year.
* In Grade 3 the average in literacy was 52 percent, and 35 percent last year.
* In Grade 6 the average in home language was 43 percent, and 28 percent last year.
* In Grade 6 maths the average was 27 percent, compared with 30 percent last year.
Motshekga said it was clear there would be no magical solutions.
“To reach our destination we will need to continue focusing our three Ts – teachers, text and time on task.”
She said the ANA had made it possible for primary schools to do what secondary schools had been doing all along with matric results.
“ANA affords parents the right to know how well their children’s schools are performing.”
She said that following the release of last year’s ANA results, a national strategy to improve literacy and numeracy achievement in all schools was implemented.
During the 2011/12 financial year literacy and numeracy workbooks for six million pupils in grades 1 to 6 were printed and this year maths workbooks were given to Grade 9 pupils.
Education specialist Graeme Bloch said much more conversation was needed on where the education system was going, while it was pleasing that there had been a focus on the foundation phase and that the results showed that there could be improvements.
“The results show maths needs a lot more attention. We don’t have enough maths teachers.”
Annette Lovemore, the DA’s basic education spokeswoman, welcomed the results but said the party was concerned about the poor performance in maths in grades 6 and 9.
“Mathematics scores in fact get progressively worse the higher the grade... Urgent intervention must take place to stem this adverse pattern.”
The SA Teachers’ Union agreed that the results for grades 4 to 6 and particularly Grade 9 were cause for great concern.
The union said on Monday schools had expressed concern at the low standard of especially the language papers “which comprised mainly comprehension tests with a notable neglect of specific language skills”.