ANA results show improvement in education system

By: More Matshediso

Johannesburg: Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says the education sector has over the last two years proved to have made substantial strides in the foundation and intermediate phase in both literacy and numeracy.

But the Minister said immediate interventions should be put in place for the senior phase of basic education as of 2015, and that necessary support should be given to underperforming grade 9 learners in Mathematics and Language subjects.

Minister Motshekga said this on Thursday when she announced the 2014 Annual National Assessment (ANA) results in Johannesburg.

Minister Motshekga said the department has managed to exceed the presidential target of 60% in both literacy and numeracy at grade 3 level and in Home Languages for grade 6.

In his 2010 State of the Nation Address (SoNA), President Jacob Zuma said learners in grades 3, 6 and 9 should achieve acceptable levels of achievement (60%) in both literacy and numeracy.

However, Minister Motshekga said although there have been improvements in these phases, the senior phase remained challenged by not delivering the expected progress against targets set by the department in 2010.

“The lack of improvement consecutively over the last three years confirms that the senior phase requires urgent action,” Minister Motshekga said.

She also said that teachers are at the heart of best performing schools, and that some schools have been implementing their own strategies in line with the department’s policies to improve overall performance of learners.

The Minister encouraged head of departments of mathematics and language subjects to take steps in ensuring that learners improve their marks, and that teachers transfer skills efficiently to learners.

“We will fast-track support to identified schools and districts where large numbers of learners are underperforming. The year 2015 is the year of radical transformation, and the senior phase will be prioritised,” the Minister said.

She said it was for the first time this year that ANA involved the entire General Education and Training (GET Band), which is grade 1 to 9, although grades 7 and 8 were a pilot project.

The Minister said about 7.3 million learners in these grades from all public schools wrote the ANA on 16 – 19 September this year.

ANA diagnoses challenges

She said ANA was implemented to assist the education system with diagnosing learners and teachers’ shortcomings, and that the system aims not to harm anybody.

Minister Motshekga said a diagnostic report and 2014 Framework for Improvement were generated following the analysis of learner responses in ANA 2013.

She said the diagnostic report revealed numerous challenges that learners experienced in certain mathematics and language topics.

The Minister said some of the challenges facing learners where results of ineffective teaching methods.

ANA Results

The department has released the ANA results showing average percentage marks for Mathematics, Home Language and First Additional Language in grade 1 to 9.

According to Minister Motshekga, the results suggest that in the foundation phase, there are increases across all provinces in the overall scores of Languages and Mathematics.

Grades 1 to 3 recorded an overall achievement of above 55% in Mathematics, while Grades 4 to 9 underperformed with below 50% average percentage marks.

With regard to Home Languages, all grades (except for grade 9) scored averaged percentage marks above 50%, while grade 9 recorded 48%.

For the First Additional Language, only learners in grades 4 to 9 were assessed, and the average percentage marks for all grades is below 50%.

The Minister highlighted that the transition from foundation, intermediate and senior phases should be smoothened for the sake of learner performance, and for the fact that serious challenges were faced by learners in Grade 9, as according to recent ANA results.

For Mathematics, grade 9 class underachieved by 11%, and by 48% in Home Languages, and by 34% in First Additional Languages.

The recent ANA results also shows percentages of learners achieving at least 50% or more, and grade 9 is still showing low percentages of 3, 48 and 18 per cent in Mathematics, Home Languages and First Additional Languages respectively.

Recent analysis

Minister Motshekga said amongst the challenges identified in grade 9 were that learners are unfamiliar with mathematical terminology and properties and often use them incorrectly; basic algebraic skills have not been mastered; and learners do not know how to solve applications in Geometry and problem involving spatial manipulations.

With regard to languages, the Minister said many learners, in both Home Language and First Additional Language, struggle to respond to questions that require the use of their own words and summarising a text using own words, becomes extremely difficult.

She added that learners are unable to interpret a sentence of give an opinion when required, and that learners lack the required editing skills when writing letters.