Shocking report on reading abilities

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Johannesburg - The reading levels of Grade 4 pupils in schools in remote rural areas are two years behind their urban counterparts.

And 75 percent of Grade 5 pupils in rural schools are “at risk educationally” for scoring dismally low in reading literacy assessments.

These are some of the findings of the Progress in International Reading and Literacy Study conducted by the University of Pretoria (UP) last year.

The study tested reading literacy levels of 325 000 Grade 4 and 5 pupils from 48 countries.

South Africa was part of the study for the first time in 2001, then 2006 and again last year.

In the latest series of the study, 19 000 South African pupils from 430 schools, both public and independent, took part.

When revealing the study’s findings in Centurion on Tuesday at a briefing attended by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, Deputy Minister Enver Surty and director-general Bobby Soobrayan, Professor Sarah Howie, director for the Centre for Evaluation and Assessments at UP’s faculty of education, said the assessments were designed to measure the trends in achievement and to indicate growth or decline in the global context.

The findings revealed that 43 percent of Grade 5 pupils have not developed the basic skills required for reading at an equivalent international Grade 4 level.

It was also found that 29 percent of the country’s Grade 4 pupils don’t have the basic skills required for reading at an equivalent international Grade 2 level.

The study also found that incidents of bullying were high, with 55 percent of Grade 4 children having reported “frequent bullying” at their schools.

Close to 12 000 South African pupils from 285 schools took part in the study.

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