- “A farmer went out one day to search for a lost calf. The herders had returned without it the evening before. And that night there had been a terrible storm“.
87% of South African Grade 4 learners cannot read and understand this paragraph.
- South Africa ranks at the bottom of all middle-income countries in Math, Science and Literacy, according to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)
- By the time the majority of South African learners have completed half their schooling they are still functionally innumerate and illiterate. And the deficit begins virtually from the day they start schools.
- The country’s top 5% Grade 6 learners perform better on basic Mathematics tests that 20% of the country’s teachers.
- An evaluation of the SACMEQ III data on teachers for their test scores on the Grade 6 mathematics tests reveals that teachers in South Africa’s worst-performing schools attained an average of 37% on the test.
- The average South African Grade 9 learners scores two to three grade levels lower that the average Grade 8 child from other middle-income countries in Mathematics and Science according to TIMSS.
- By age 7, children who score in the top 20% on tests of numeracy and literacy are already twice as likely to complete a university degree compared to the bottom 20% of learners.
- Learners begin to fall behind in primary school in the fundamentals of numeracy and literacy. The shortfalls in early grades create deficits that are nearly impossible to catch up down the line.
- Evidence suggests that even in good systems, students that do not progress quickly during their first years in school stand very little chance of recovering the lost years.
- Without proper support in primary education, especially a strong grounding in numeracy and literacy, secondary and tertiary education will rest on weak foundations and will never yield the success that primary school support could ensure.