Pretoria — The results of the 2012 Annual National Assessment (ANA) show the numeracy and literacy performance of South African learners in the lower grades has improved.
"Learner performance in the Foundation Phase Grades 1, 2 and 3 is pleasing. There is progress also in the Intermediate Phase Grade 4, 5 and 6," said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, while officially revealing the results at Ipontshe Primary School in Tembisa on Monday.
"The Annual National Assessment was a massive undertaking with over seven million learners writing. This is an achievement in itself, showing teachers are getting it right and learners are making progress."
The ANAs is a testing programme that requires all schools to conduct the same grade-specific language and mathematics tests for Grades 1 to 6 and Grade 9.
The results showed that in Grade 3, the national average performance in literacy stands at 53% compared to the 35% in 2011 -- an improvement of 17% from 2011.
"In Grade 3 numeracy, our learners are performing at an average of 41% compared to the 28% in 2011. Again, a great improvement of 13%, particularly noting our commitment to ensure that our learners pursue mathematics and science in later grades," said Motshekga.
She said her department was concerned that few learners took Mathematics and Science, and even those that had the potential to take these subjects did not because to fear of failing.
Provincial performance in these grades ranged between 34% and 47%, with Gauteng and the Western Cape being the highest.
In Grade 6, Motshekga said the national average performance in language was 34% for the Home Language and 36% for the First Additional Language compared to 28% in 2011. This showed an improvement of 15%.
The First Additional Language was not assessed in the 2011 ANAs, and these results would serve as a benchmark moving forward.
Motshekga pointed out that the First Additional Language was very important because the majority of black learners studied in a language that was not their home language.
In Grade 6 Mathematics, the average performance was 27% compared to 30% in 2011. Provincial performance ranged between 21% and 33%.
In Grade 9, the national average performance in language stands at 43% Home Language and 35% First Additional Language. Provincial performance ranged between 30% and 40%.
"In Grade 9 Mathematics, the average is 13%. Provincial performance ranges between 9% and 17%. These results explain to a very large extent why among many other reasons we have a high failure and dropout rates at Grade 10 and 11," said the minister.
The national average performance for Grades 1, 2, 4 and 5 literacy in 2012 is as follows:
Grade 1 - 58% (59% in 2011)
Grade 2 - 55% (52% in 2011)
Grade 4 - 43% Home Language and 34% First Additional Language (34% in 2011)
Grade 5 was 40% Home Language and 30% for First Additional Language (28% in 2011)
The national average performance for Grades 1, 2, 4 and 5 in numeracy in 2012 is as follows:
Grade 1 - 68% (63% in 2011)
Grade 2 - 57% (55% in 2011)
Grade 4 -37% (28% in 2011)
Grade 5 - 30% (28% in 2011)
"These improvements again are a great hope because we are beginning to see improvements at the lower end of the system whilst we have to be concerned that the higher end seems to be stagnating," said Motshekga.
She said the ANAs were an instrumental tool for districts in provinces to show them which schools were in need of urgent assistance.
Another priority was ensuring that every learner had access to a minimum set of textbooks and workbooks required according to the national policy.