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Western Cape making progress in literacy skills

by Gabi Khumalo
on 23 Apr 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

While Grade 6 learners in the Western Cape are making steady progress in improving their literacy skills, Maths still remains a huge challenge, according to latest study by the provincial Education Department.

The study done in October and November 2007 to assess the literacy and numeracy skills of 71 874 Grade 6 learners from 1 034 schools in the province, revealed that learners achieving more than 50 percent for literacy across the province has increased steadily over the past four years.

The study revealed that learners have improved in literacy from 35 percent in 2003 to 42.1 percent in 2005 and 44.8 percent in 2007, an increase of 9.8 percent since 2003.

Numeracy however increased from 15.6 percent in 2003 to 17.2 percent in 2005, but declined to 14 percent in 2007.

The aim of the studies are to monitor the performance of Grade 3 and 6 learners in literacy and numeracy at the end of the Foundation and Intermediate phases and to inform the department's literacy and numeracy intervention strategies.

Some of the key facts and findings include a total of 207 schools in all five quintiles improved results in both numeracy and literacy.

Eight of 16 schools who opted to write assessment in chosen Language, isiXhosa, achieved almost four times higher than their scores for 2005.

Responding to the findings, Education MEC Cameron Dugmore said while the results reflect consistent progress in literacy, the Department still have a long way to go to ensure that learners meet the assessment standards of the national curriculum for both literacy and numeracy.

"While aware of the work that remains to be done, we are inspired by the significant number of schools in all poverty quintiles that have improved their results in both literacy and numeracy," said Mr Dugmore.

He noted that while circumstances differ from school to school, the common thread is that of people engaging with this issue including teachers, principals, officials, parents and local communities to make a difference.

The latest study continue to reflect the huge differences between learners from different communities and the huge task confronting the department as they seek to provide access to quality education for all in the province.

On Language Transformation programme, Mr Dugmore said the department was very pleased with the progress in the primary schools participating in the programme adding that these schools are attempting to ensure that mother tongue tuition is provided from Grade 1 to 6.

"The results in general show that we have to continue focusing on schools in our poorest communities, we have to build on interventions that work while exploring new ideas wherever possible," he said.

The Department's Deputy Director-General, Curriculum Development, Brian Schreuder will lead road shows in every district over the next two months to discuss relevant results with schools and district officials.

He will also meet with local communities in the evenings.

"Literacy and numeracy provide the bedrock for all learning and therefore will remain the department's number one priority.

"While there are no quick fixes, we are proceeding with a great sense of urgency to build this foundation, focusing mainly on schools in our poorest communities," said Mr Schreuder. - BuaNews

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