'WCape numeracy a concern'
Cape Town - Western Cape primary school students are not achieving the required numeracy skills before being promoted to the next grade, the province's education MEC Donald Grant said on Tuesday.
"Currently, too many of our learners are being pushed through the system, despite being unable to master literacy and numeracy at the appropriate grade," said Grant in a statement issued after a briefing in central Cape Town.
"Unable to cope at higher levels, many of these learners either drop out of school or fail to pass Grade 12."
Grant said the province needed to ensure that from the beginning of their school career, students mastered reading, writing and numeracy.
Grant said since 2002 the province's education department had conducted research into literacy and numeracy performance.
He said by 2008, the pass rate for literacy in Grade 3 had increased by 17.8% since 2002.
Since 2003, the percentage of Grade 6 pupils achieving more than 50% for literacy across the Western Cape had increased by 9.8%.
Numeracy the main concern
"However, of major concern are the numeracy results."
Grant said numeracy levels had decreased in Grade 3 and Grade 6 since 2002.
"Only 35% of Grade 3 learners achieved more than 50% for numeracy in 2008, with a provincial average of 39.5%.
"Even fewer Grade 6 students were passing numeracy tests."
Grant said this meant that more than half of Grade 6 students could not even cope with Grade 3, 4 or 5 levels for numeracy.
"Despite this, 95.2% of Grade 6 learners in the Western Cape were promoted to Grade 7 in 2007, according to national progression norms."
He said therefore it was no surprise that schools in the province were experiencing high drop-out rates.
"Of the 97 864 learners who enrolled in public schools in the Western Cape in 1997, only 43 470 learners made it to Grade 12.
"Of those learners only 33% qualified for a matriculation endorsement."
Grant said the department had already started a re-training programme for all teachers who taught mathematics in primary schools.
"We intend to make this programme compulsory, making the necessary budget adjustments where required."
He also said the department was exploring the option of implementing a lesson-by-lesson plan for primary school mathematics.