Speech by Western Cape Education Department MEC, Donald Grant, during the grade six literacy and numeracy awards
25 Mar 2010
Good evening to you all.
It is with great pleasure that I am here tonight to celebrate the achievements of schools that have produced excellent results in our grade six literacy and numeracy assessment tests.
Ensuring that all our learners are able to read, write and calculate at the appropriate level is a key priority for this administration, and we are determined, as outlined in our strategic plan, to improve literacy and numeracy outcomes at all levels.
An important aspect of this is to know where our learners’ strengths and weaknesses lie. If we do not set benchmarks for our learners and test them against these benchmarks on a regular basis, we will never be able to target individual learning needs and improve learner outcomes.
That is why tonight is so important. We are recognising and acknowledging all those schools and educators who are responsible for improved results and excellence and will hopefully serve as an incentive to others to improve their results in the future.
Let us be honest, the overall results of the 2009 tests reveal that we do have many challenges ahead. The level rate of learners achieving 50 percent or more for literacy across the Western Cape is 48.6 percent and 17.4 percent for numeracy. But while these results are still unacceptably low it is encouraging to note that the majority of schools are making progress.
For example, out of 1 046 primary schools 611, or 58.4 percent, improved their results in numeracy, with 211 schools improving by more than 10 percent, 17.9 percent of schools results remained the same. In literacy, 603 schools (57.6 percent) improved their results, with 341 schools increasing by more than 10 percent.
It is also pleasing to note that the gap between those who can and those who cannot comprehend literacy and numeracy at the lower grade levels is closing. This is evidenced by the fact that in 2003, only 29.1 percent passed at grade four level, whilst in 2009, 45.1 percent passed at that same level. This is an encouraging 16 percent increase.
But tonight is not about our overall improvements at the grade six level.
It is about individual school performance and excellence. The awards presented here tonight are for schools that have consistently performed well over the three years assessment period, as well as, schools that have shown substantial progress. I had the pleasure of visiting two of these schools earlier this week; Rustenburg Girls Junior and Yomelela Primary School.
Rustenburg has consistently performed well since 2005, achieving a pass rate of 100 percent in literacy in 2005 and 2009. In numeracy they obtained 95.9 percent in 2009, compared to 97.5 percent and 95.5 percent in 2003 and 2005.
If one compares these pass rates to the provincial average, this is extremely praiseworthy. However, the most noteworthy praises should go to schools, like Yomelela Primary School in Khayelitsha, who have drastically improved their performance in these tests, despite facing a myriad of challenges each day.
In 2005, zero percent of their learners achieved a pass rate of 50 percent or more in literacy. In 2007, this increased to 31.4 percent and 43.7 percent in 2009. In numeracy, they achieved zero percent in 2005 and 2007, and 38.9 percent in 2009. This is a remarkable achievement.
The question is; how did they do it?
So the first thing I did was ask the educators what they believed contributed to this increase.
They said that, first and foremost, their attitude towards the tests changed. Instead of looking at the test results and getting despondent, they saw them as an opportunity to improve by analysing the results and seeing where learners were struggling. They also taught the learners in the language of the paper that was written, revised old papers and held extra classes on Saturdays and week days for learners that were struggling.
They even held mock tests at the examination hall where the assessment test was later to be written, in order to familiarise their learners with their surroundings!
These interventions obviously worked. However, I don’t believe this could have been achieved without the assistance from the circuit, the leadership of the principal, Mr Ncinitwa, and the collaboration of all educators at the school.
Every teacher was involved in this process and I sincerely believe that this team effort and dedication led to where they are today, accepting an award for excellence!
I have been told though, on good authority, that the rest of the schools celebrated here tonight share the same values and goals.
I would like to say congratulations to you all. The Western Cape Education Department is very proud of your success and I can only look forward to seeing what all of you achieve at the end of this year.
Grade 6 Provincial Primary School Awards
Cell: 072 7241 422
Tel: 021 467 2377
Issued by: Western Cape Education
25 Mar 2010
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