ANA proof we need mother tongue education - SADTU

Union says results are dismal, but will help with correcting problems

SADTU welcomes ANA results

The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) has welcomed the release of the Annual National Assessment (ANA) results but says more work need to be done to improve.

ANA tests were written in February this year in Grades 1 to 6 to provide credible and reliable information on the learners' progress. In Grades 1 to 3, learners were tested in literacy and numeracy. Learners in Grades 4 to 6 were tested in Languages and Mathematics.

The results have indicated that fewer than half of all learners in South Africa perform at a level that indicates that they have at least partially achieved the competencies specified in the curriculum (35%). Too few learners are able to achieve outstanding results. Only 3% of learners in Grade 6 Mathematics can be considered outstanding (at least 70% pass)       

The dismal, yet sobering results will provide the teachers with information to assist them to quickly diagnose a problem and implement specific and targeted interventions.

Looking at the results, SADTU noted the following:

Early childhood development

SADTU has been vindicated by the slightly better performance of learners in the Foundation Phase. SADTU has for years been calling for the provision of more resources and the development of teachers in this phase. In 2008, the then Education Minister Naledi Pando launched the Foundations for Learning Campaign to improve learner performance in reading, writing and numeracy. This year, 15 000 Foundations for Learning packs for use by teachers from Grade R to 3 were distributed. This investment in the Foundation Phase by the Department of Education, has led to an improved result.

However, our call for the recognition of ECD practitioners by the Department still remains.  We are calling on the department of basic education to improve the conditions of service to ECD teachers.

Provision of workbooks.

According to the analysis of the results, the schools with workbooks fared better vindicating what we have long been saying that the provision of resources is crucial to educating a learner and will ensure higher chances of success.

Mother tongue instruction:

SADTU would repeat its call for mother tongue instruction in schools. From the ANA results one of the reasons for poor performance in Grade 4 results has to do with the change in the language of instruction from mother tongue in Grade 3 to English in Grade 4.

We are calling on the national curriculum to compel schools to use and intellectualise the African languages so that this can lead to a democratisation of access to scientific knowledge and technology to the benefit of the masses of the rural population who now wallow in ignorance, misery, disease and hunger because such life-saving knowledge and skills are currently confined to a foreign language accessible only to a privileged few. It is well known that a child learns and develops faster cognitively and intellectually if in infancy he or she is taught in mother tongue over a period of time. 

We call upon all who love our country to commit every resource available to education. In this regard we welcome the outcome because the need for teacher development cannot be delayed any longer. It is therefore crucial that we are not tempted to introduce managerialism in education as if education is mechanical. We need commitment to QLTC non-negotiables and an understanding that quality education is defined in terms of context and culture. Performance agreements in education are there and what we need is to implement them correctly and not bring more administration burden on our schools.

SADTU will use the results at our Education/Labour conference this year to develop targeted intervention strategies in line with our vision to create a learning nation.

Statement issued by SADTU General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke, June 28 2011

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