ANA results disappointing but necessary - Jacob Zuma

President says they inform the nation about where performance is good or not


The results of the Annual National Assessments of numeracy and literacy skills in primary schools for 2011 have re-confirmed the correctness of the government decision to make education an apex priority and a societal responsibility nationwide.

In the 2011 State of the Nation Address, I committed government to track progress in the system through the introduction of the Annual National Assessments in literacy and numeracy against the performance targets that I set in the 2009 State of the Nation Address.

This significant intervention of testing nearly 6 million learners is one of Government's many strategies to ensure that the outcome of improved quality learning and teaching is achieved.

The purpose of the Annual National Assessments is in the first instance to provide Government with a tool to measure on an annual basis the performance of the entire sector - from the individual learner, class, school, district, province and the country as a whole. This will enable Government to accurately measure on an annual basis the impact of specific programmes and interventions.

South Africa is not alone in setting annual assessments. International research has clearly demonstrated that annual assessments have a positive impact on learning and teaching after some time. The conduct of such assessments requires teachers and the system to focus on what exactly is being taught and learnt. We made the commitment to measure our learners' performance and we have done so. We have released the results to the nation.

While the results in themselves are disappointing, they inform the nation about where exactly performance is good or not. The results demonstrate that where literacy and numeracy programmes are implemented effectively and in a focussed manner such as in Gauteng and the Western Cape, performance is enhanced.

The ANA results also enable Government to identify points in the system whether province, district or school where intervention is needed. Experts will work with the Planning and Delivery Oversight Unit to support provinces to implement effectively all education programmes and interventions that will strengthen learning and teaching and improved quality of basic education.

Government has put in place various initiatives and interventions all aimed at creating a better life for all South Africans. This is premised on the foundation of a citizenry that actively contributes towards a functioning democracy.

Whilst the democratic government has always prioritised education, this Administration has articulated and reiterated its commitment to improve the quality of Basic Education as a defining hallmark of its success. Since this administration declared education an apex programme of government, we have separated the Departments of Basic and Higher Education and Training in order to not only focus on policy, but more importantly to strengthen implementation and delivery.

We have already put in place programmes that will lead to improved learning and teaching. Workbooks have been distributed to nearly six million children in 2011. These will not only strengthen learning but will improve the quality of teaching.

This administration has faced up to the challenges of the Curriculum articulated by teachers and experts alike. We have introduced practical reforms such as streamlining the curriculum documents for teachers into the Curriculum and Assessments Statements, as well as taking steps to improve the language skills of learners by introducing the Language of Learning and teaching in Grade 1 and reducing the number of subjects in the Intermediate Phase.

Government has also finalised the Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development for South Africa. The focus is firmly on more targeted, subject-specific teacher education and development that will improve teacher content knowledge.

We have also placed increasing emphasis on the importance of Early Childhood Development and Grade R for learners. To support the objective of laying solid foundations for learning from an early age, Government is working towards universal access to Grade R by 2014. Between 2007 and 2010 there was an increase in the number of schools offering Grade R, from 12 480 schools to 16 020 and an increase in the number of learners in Grade R, from 487 222 to 707 203.

Government also wants to ensure that early childhood development reaches children from poor households as well, through subsidies ranging between R12 and R15 per child per day, for qualifying children from poor households attending Early Childhood Development centres. To date, more than 400 000 children receive the subsidy, in 16 250 centres registered with the Department of Social Development.

Education is known to be the greatest liberator and leveller of poverty, where people who have managed to gain better quality of education have more economic and social opportunities available to improve their personal lives as well as their families and communities.

We call on all South Africans to work together in support of basic education and the future of our children. As a nation we should hold up the banner of literacy and numeracy and together work towards ensuring that all our citizens acquire these foundational and critical skills.

We thank parents, educators and the children for their cooperation in this regard. We also acknowledge the role of the media which has several educational programmes supporting learning in our schools. We thank the private sector as many companies support schools in their neighbourhoods.

Working together we will ensure the delivery of quality education to all our children.

Enquiries: Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency

Statement issued by the Presidency, June 30 2011

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