6m pupils write assessment tests

2011-02-08 08:57

More than six million pupils across the country started writing the Annual National Assessment exams today.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said she was “expecting the worst”.

Motshekga, who was at Midrand’s Ebony Park Primary School for the start of the tests said: “I expect the worst, but we need to know the worst so that we can address the weaknesses that exist (in the education system).”

Motshekga said the assessments were “diagnostic tests”.

They were aimed at seeing what skills, such as literacy and numeracy, pupils had and whether these, especially analytical skills, were at the correct level for the respective pupils’ age.

They would show how South Africa’s school children compared nationally and internationally.

“Pupils can learn, but they can also forget. This is not only about knowledge, because people forget facts. It is about skills. Interpretive and analytical skills, and are these children at the right levels.”

It was expected that some 12 million pupils would have written the assessments by June at the latest.

Parents would be informed about how their children performed.

Teachers had not seen exam papers until the examinations and could therefore not prepare the children for the exams.

“If there are gaps in their education and their skill, we need to know what these gaps are so that we can take action,” she said.

A criticism levelled at the assessments was that teachers would be marking the assessments, but basic education spokesperson Hope Mokgatlhe said measures were in place to prevent teachers from inflating marks.

These included external verification.

Most schools should have reported pupils’ results to their parents by the end of March.

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