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  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU concerned at Annual National Assessments

5 December 2012

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is seriously worried at some of the results of the Annual National Assessments (ANA), released by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on 3 December 2012. The ANAs test the numeracy and literacy skills pupils in grades 1 to 6, and the maths and language skills of Grade 9 pupils.

We welcome the small improvement in Grades 1-6, including the news that:

  • In Grade 3 the average in numeracy was 41%, compared with 28% last year.
  • In Grade 3 the average in literacy was 52%, up from 35% last year.
  • In Grade 6 the average in home language was 43%, compared to 28% last year.

The federation congratulates all the teachers who played a part in achieving these advances, but cautions that these improvements are from a very low base, and give no grounds for any complacency; the figures need to be much higher.

The Grade 9 Maths marks are of particular concern, however. They reveal an average mark of just 13%. Only 2% of those tested scored above 50%. Given the crucial importance of maths in a modern, manufacturing-based economy, these figures are totally unacceptable and top priority must be given to training more learners to excel in maths and more educators to teach them.

The results confirm the need to urgently implement the measures agreed upon by the signatories to the Basic Education Accord, signed in 2011 by leaders of government, organised labour, business and community constituencies in Nedlac.

As COSATU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said at the launch of the Accord, “There has been tremendous progress in the education system ... but there is no doubt that we have not completely transformed education in South Africa... Poor schools bear the brunt of this inequality and the Accord is an instrument that can aid the situation.

“Those of us who claim to be revolutionary,” he said, “have a critical responsibility to do our part to assist. We cannot blame others, we must be introspective”.

All education role players, stakeholders and social partners who signed the Accord committed their organisations to support the drive to achieve quality teaching and learning in South Africa. COSATU subsequently resolved that all its affiliates and provincial structures should ‘adopt a school’, selecting those with the poorest matric results, to help them to improve.

These latest figures are a wake-up call to all those signatories to turn their verbal commitments into action on the ground. COSATU today repeats the General Secretary’s appeal to all role-players - “to do something extraordinary to save the future of our children.”

He called on teachers to play their part, saying there must be zero tolerance on those who are not in class on time and teaching and warned that those who brought the profession’s good name into disrepute should be exposed and isolated.

This was echoed by Minster Motshekga, who aid, when announcing the latest ANA results: “To reach our destination we will need to continue focusing our three Ts – teachers, text and time on task.”

We cannot however place all the responsibility on the teachers. The scandalous non-delivery of textbooks in Limpopo was a result of gross incompetence among education officials and service-delivery companies. We all have to “do something extraordinary”, play our part in transforming our public education service and bring South Africa’s education standards to the highest level possible. The future of our economy and democracy depend on it.

Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Street

Tel: +27 11 339-4911 or Direct: +27 10 219-1339
Mobile: +27 82 821 7456
E-Mail: patrick@cosatu.org.za