SA university entrant skills at Grade 5 level

The DA says that teacher training in South Africa “is mediocre at best” after new findings to a report revealed that the majority of teachers are unable to teach children to read.

The political party pointed to findings of Dr Nick Taylor, CEO of the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit, in the first stage of his research into the training of teachers who will teach in the intermediate phase (Grades 4 to 6).

According to the DA, Dr Taylor presented some of his findings at an education conference last week, noting the following:

  • Although English is the dominant medium of instruction, teachers who are not specialising in the teaching of English are not, generally, receiving adequate training to be able to teach in English;
  • The majority of teachers are unable to teach children to read;
  • Although a framework is in place, it is sufficiently vague to allow no real standards for teacher training to exist: in addition, there appears to be no attempt to control the standards at different universities;
  • A requirement of every teacher, according to the Higher Education Qualifications Framework, is that they should be familiar with identifying and dealing with children with barriers to learning: this is largely ignored during university training;
  • Many teachers are so poorly trained that they cannot develop further: the continuing professional development offered to them after they leave university simply does not find traction.

According to the DA, Professor Herman van Schalkwyk of North West University told the conference that his university carries out testing of literacy and comprehension skills on matriculants entering the university.

The professor said that, on average, literacy levels are those that would be expected of a Grade 7 learner and comprehension skills are at the level that would be expected of a Grade 5 learner.

He added that students entering the education faculty fare amongst the worst in this testing, the DA said.

“We cannot allow teachers to study for four years and emerge unable to teach, and we cannot allow our learners to continue to be taught by teachers who are incompetent, and not through their own fault,” said Annette Lovemore, DA shadow minister of basic education.

“I will raise questions with both the minister of basic education, Angie Motshekga, and Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, requesting their action plans in light of Dr Taylor’s report,” Lovemore said.

South Africa was once again ranked stone last on the quality of its Mathematics and Science education in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report 2014 – 2015 published last week.

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SA university entrant skills at Grade 5 level