Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has released the Annual National Assessments (ANA) results for 2014, which show that the average performance in Grade 9 mathematics is 10.8%.
Motshekga explained that the idea of ANA is to gauge the extent to which the basic education system is impacting on the critical areas of numeracy and literacy.
“ANA is a diagnostic tool to help the sector to self-correct. In fact, ANA results have become a powerful tool of assessing the health of our basic education system,” she said.
The ANA showed the following average national performance per grade:
The DA said that it was saddened, but not surprised, at the very low Grade 9 numeracy and literacy levels.
“Only 3% of Grade 9 learners achieved 50% or more in mathematics, and the average for literacy in their home languages was only 48%,” said the DA.
The minister said that at the Grade 9 level the results show a trend of underperformance both in language and mathematics.
“Our Achilles’ heel remains the unacceptably low performance in Grade 9 mathematics,” said Motshekga.
“All ANA results and diagnostic reports have flagged the problem of mathematics teaching and learning throughout the system.”
“This calls for “Business Unusual” if we are to take head on what remains the elephant in the room – learners’ poor grasp of mathematical concepts, and teachers’ apparent lack of requisite academic level in mathematics to teach Grade 9 mathematics.”
“These are the twin limitations that we must confront if we are to take the system out of this quagmire.”
The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) said the administration of the ANA was a huge undertaking considering that the ANA was written by approximately seven million pupils from Grade One to Nine at both public and subsidised private schools.
“Educators, school managers, and departmental officials must be complimented on the accomplishment of such a mammoth task,” said union president Basil Manuel.
“Naptosa noted that the department of basic education interventions in numeracy and literacy had resulted in improved learner performance in some grades.”
He said the union believed focused interventions on content knowledge and skills, both in numeracy and literacy, were needed in the foundation phase to ensure a strong basis for mathematics in the higher grades.
“The poor result of 11 percent in mathematics in Grade Nine is of concern to Naptosa, there is clearly something amiss in the senior phase”, he said.