Another shocking maths result

2013-12-06 00:00

FEWER than four of every 100 Grade 9 pupils in KwaZulu-Natal scored more than 50% for mathematics in this year’s Annual National Assessments (ANA) report.

The average mark for mathematics for the entire province was 14,4% — and not a single education district scored more than 18% on average for mathematics.

Only 3,4% of Grade 9 pupils in KwaZulu-Natal managed an “acceptable achievement” rate of more than 50% for mathematics.

But with Grade 6 mathematics results showing consistent improvement in all districts, there is some hope for future matriculants despite the bleak results for the grade nines.

More than 27 000 schools and seven million pupils participated in the ANA 2013.

National Teachers’ Union (Natu) deputy president Allan Thompson yesterday blamed the education system, saying the chopping and changing of the curriculum made it difficult to teach new programmes offered by the department.

He said last year, the KZN Grade 9 mathematics average had been 12%.

The KZN Grade 9s did not do well in languages either, improving from an average mark of 37,7 % to 39,3% in home language while dropping from 32,3% to 31,8% in first additional language.

“The nation cannot celebrate an increase of a percentage or two in certain areas. This is not the reflection of the capabilities of educators in the province,” said Thompson.

He said lack of teacher training workshops made it difficult for teachers to teach new programmes introduced by the department. “This ‘cutting and pasting’ in the curriculum had made it difficult for educators to understand what was required of them. Next year the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (Caps) will be introduced to replace OBE and there hasn’t been enough training of educators to prepare them for the new programme. If the sequence of the curriculum is not coherent there will never be consistency,” he said.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said that urgent intervention was needed to remedy the poor Grade 9 mathematics results.

Motshekga said in most grades the proportion of pupils who achieved acceptable levels in literacy and numeracy has either remained the same or has increased.

“Unfortunately in a few grades at both the intermediate and senior phases, achievement seems to have remained at low levels and this poses a serious challenge,” she said.

She said mathematics was of “strategic importance” in a technological world and there would be “focused intervention” to improve the quality of teaching.

UKZN education expert Dr Edith Dempster said there was a big problem in the education system.

“The qualification and commitment of teachers in educating and a lack of adequate resources in schools all play a role in this. Teachers don’t get enough workshops.

“However, I don’t think this will impact on these pupils’ matric results when they get to that level as there is lot of preparation before the examination,” she said.

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) president Basil Manuel hoped that the results would help in planning meaningful interventions that could be used to improve teacher development.

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