7 December 2017

South Africa: Latest Illiteracy Shock Reveals Severe Teaching Deficiencies

analysis

On Tuesday the news broke that about eight out of 10 Grade 4s were functionally illiterate. I raised my eyebrows, but I wasn't all that surprised. I was really more relieved that what I've experienced and discussed anecdotally with colleagues is now substantiated in a controlled study. I also wondered how many university lecturers were truly surprised by this stat. Considering that universities are getting the strongest academic survivors of our education system, and, again, from anecdotal evidence and personal experience, that many of the first-year students seem to struggle with reading, writing and studying (never mind actually attending class on time), is it really such a revelation?

Forget the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), If you truly want a shot of panic, you should take a look at the 2016 Initial Teacher Education Research Project (ITERP). The report is an easy, quick read, but here is a concise summary (page 18):

"In brief, the ITE [Initial Teacher Education] programmes at few of the five universities currently training the majority of the country's new teachers were structurally and conceptually coherent. Admission requirements were low, and selection mechanisms were weak. The depth and breadth of instruction and learning in...

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