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Improving performance

Written by Samona Murugan
The Department of Basic Education introduced annual national assessments (ANA) in Grades 1 to 6 in 2008 as part of the Foundations for Learning campaign. The campaign aims to improve learners’ performance, as well as the overall quality of education.

In 2009, more than 90 per cent of schools participated in the national assessments in the form of written tests. In addition to assessing Grades 1 to 6, language, mathematics and science was assessed in Grade 9.

A national standard

The Department has set a target to improve learners’ achievements by 2014. This includes improving numeracy and literacy levels of Grades 3 and 6. Currently, the average levels of numeracy and literacy in the country are between 27 and 38 per cent. The department aims to reach at least 60 per cent by 2014. There will be national assessments for Grades 3 in literacy and numeracy and for Grade 6 and 9 in languages and maths every year. A national standard will be set to provide a benchmark for all schools in the basic education sector.

The national assessments aim to improve the quality of education. The results will help the Department of Basic Education to track and improve the quality of learning and teaching in the system. Teachers will now be exposed to better learner assessment techniques.
Schools that are unable to reach their targets will receive special support. 

Who will write the ANA tests?

Each child will write two tests, namely a literacy and a numeracy (maths) test. The tests will be based on the performance levels from the previous year:

In the Foundation Phase (Grades 1 to 3) learners will write the national assessment in their home language. This will be one of the 11 official languages.

In the Intermediate Phase (Grades 4 to 6) learners will write the tests in one of the languages of learning and teaching which is English or
Afrikaans.

In the Senior Phase only those learners who were in Grade 9 in 2010 and who are now in Grade 10 will write the national assessment as a pilot project. 50 schools in each province have been selected to participate.

Schools will release the assessment results as soon as possible in February each year. Parents will be informed and schools and teachers will use the results to plan for the school year.

How to prepare for ANA

Each year, schools will receive examples of ANA literacy and numeracy tests so that schools and parents can help learners prepare for the tests every February. 

The ANA timetable and examples for 2011 can be found on the Department’s website at  www.education.gov.za

Encourage children to learn

It is very important that parents encourage their children rather than put pressure on them. Parents should build up their children’s confidence so that they will believe in their own abilities. Children should understand that the ANA tests are not examinations in which they can pass or fail. It is a way to find out if they have any problems with literacy and numeracy and how they can be helped.

Parents should encourage their children to read as much as possible at home, whether it’s newspapers or magazines or books.

You can help your children by:

  • taking them to your local library
  • encouraging them to read and take out books regularly 
  • teaching them to respect and treat books with care.
  • The Department of Basic Education is distributing workbooks for literacy and numeracy to all learners in Grades 1 to 6. They will be encouraged to take their workbooks home. Check your children’s workbooks and ask them questions about what they are learning in class. Ask your children whether they are aware of the tests and when they will write them. You may access the examples for Grade 3 and 6 on the Department of Basic Education’s website: www.education.gov.za.