Motshekga welcomes education report
PRETORIA: Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has welcomed the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) report, which highlights the state of education in the lower grades.
The report, titled The State of Literacy Teaching and Learning in the Foundation Phase, was launched in Pretoria on Thursday, 2 May 2013.
Speaking at the launch, Motshekga said she would ask Parliament to support the department's intervention strategies, which are meant to remedy shortcomings in educational practice and eliminate barriers to quality education.
She said the report was useful in showing where improvement was needed in education.
"We welcome this important report precisely because we are committed to the goal of improving the quality of education for all children in the country.
"We will engage the valuable recommendations made by NEEDU in pursuance of its mandate to provide our department expert advice on a system-wide basis on those factors that inhabit or advance school improvement," she said.
Motshekga said the department was concerned about the poor levels of reading among learners, especially those in the first few years of school.
The results of the 2012 Annual National Assessment (ANA) showed that the national average performance in literacy for Grade 1 was 58% (59% in 2011); Grade 2 - 55% (52% in 2011) and Grade 3 - 53% (35% in 2011).
"We are pleased that the report speaks to some of the concerns we had articulated when we commissioned an audit of the provincial reading programme.
"We believe all learners should be given a solid grounding in English to assist them when they move from the foundation phase to the intermediate phase," Motshekga said.
NEEDU Chief Executive Officer, Dr Nick Taylor, said in their research, they have discovered that poor performance by schools was a result of poor discipline.
To turn the situation around, Taylor said, the department must, among other measures, monitor leave taken by teachers. More importantly, assistance and support must be given to teachers who are struggling.
"Development of teachers must be continuous," he said.
NEEDU visited various schools throughout the country, assessing teachers and learners on a number of issues, including reading and writing, and the materials used by teachers.
Among the recommendations made, NEEDU said educator development must be continuous.
NEEDU is tasked with providing the minister with an independent account of the state of schools and the development needs of the school education system through a monitoring and evaluation system.
The unit is also responsible for identifying the factors that inhibit or advance school improvement; make recommendations for redressing the problem areas that undermine school improvement, and to propose appropriate solutions to ensure that schools offer effective education for all learners.