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LITERACY IN SOUTH AFRICAN SCHOOLS

LITERACY IN SOUTH AFRICAN SCHOOLS

In 2003, Grade 3 Gauteng learners were functioning at an average language skills level of 39 per cent (Department of Education systemic evaluation). In February 2006, the Department’s Grade 6 evaluation results also revealed poor levels of literacy amongst Gauteng learners:

Grade 3 
Life skills54%
Literacy54%
Listening comprehension68%
Reading and writing39%
Numeracy30%
Grade 6 
Life skills53%
Literacy52%
Listening comprehension67%
Reading and writing39%
Numeracy32%

Although literacy scores were higher than numeracy scores, this was due to higher scores obtained in the listening comprehension, rather than in reading and writing. Learners performed adequately in multiple-choice tasks but performed poorly in tasks that required them to produce written responses. Literacy scores were influenced by the following factors:

  • Educators reported that the shortage of learning and teaching material had an influence on learning. This was supported by the fact that learners in institutions that had less teaching and learning material scored lower than those in better-equipped institutions
  • Learners’ participation in classroom activities was found to be low, despite the emphasis on this in the outcomes-based education that was then in existence. Other evaluation findings included:
  • 23 per cent had access to newspapers and magazines
  • 53 per cent had fewer than ten books
  • 53 per cent of learners’ families did not have any books in the home
  • Only 27 per cent of schools had libraries
  • Research found that the way money is spent is crucial to students’ performance
  • “The focus for education spending should be on teacher training, good learner material and time spent on teaching”. Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Dean of Education, Pretoria University

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