Celebrating Our Province's Top Achievers in the 2011 Literacy and Numeracy Awards
It is with great pleasure that I am here tonight to celebrate the achievements of schools that have produced excellent results and improvements in our Grade 3 and 6 literacy and numeracy assessments in 2011.
It is important that you are all acknowledged and celebrated as examples of best practice in the Western Cape and I would like to congratulate you all.
These tests are important to the Western Cape as they inform our literacy and numeracy interventions, and improve the management of education and learner performance.
They also give us the opportunity to assess where our learners' abilities lie. As the Western Cape Government our objective is to ensure quality within the system. Quality is usually benchmarked against international best practice and therefore it is imperative that these tests are in line with internationally recognised standards.
As a successful nation we need to empower our young people to compete in the global market.
There is no better place to start than in building quality into the education system.
Many of you are aware that last year's testing was different to the testing in previous years in that we saw a number of improvements in the testing instruments, particularly in the literacy and language papers. The reason for this was to ensure that these tests remain relevant, of an appropriate standard and in line with the curriculum and the changing school system in which our schools operate.
The Centre for Evaluation and Assessment (CEA) was tasked to assess and evaluate these tests and identified various areas that needed to be expanded or improved upon.
Significant changes were made to the Grade 3 literacy and Grade 6 language tests, where the CEA felt it was necessary to expand the tests, as well as increase their levels of difficulty so that they are in line with international experience and best practice.
In numeracy and mathematics, the CEA made only minor changes to the test instruments, making the papers slightly more difficult than before.
The relevance of these improvements should not go unnoticed when we consider tonight's award winners. Many of the schools here tonight achieved excellent results in both literacy and numeracy - with some schools achieving 100% pass rates in some of the subjects.
Special mention must be made to some of the schools present here tonight, such as Rustenberg Girls Junior for achieving a 100% pass rate in both Grade 3 numeracy and Grade 6 literacy, Oakhurst Girls Primary for achieving 100% in both Grade 3 and Grade 6 literacy and languages, and Paarl Meisieskool with 100% in both Grade 3 literacy and numeracy.
Congratulations to Breeriver Laerskool in the Cape Winelands, albeit a small school, and Springfield Convent, who both achieved a 100% pass rate in both Grade 3 literacy and numeracy and in Grade 6 language and mathematics!
If we consider the extensive expertise and experience in system-level evaluation and assessment the CEA offers and that the 2011 test instruments are in line with international systemic evaluations, results such as these are most noteworthy. Also noteworthy are the real improvements achieved at schools not yet at the 100% level. This was no easy task.
The reality is that we have here in the Western Cape, as we do in other schools across the country, schools that face enormous challenges, whether inherited from the past or the result of the context in which they function.
The WCED continues to support these schools through various interventions and programmes. Our primary objective is to see sustained improvement at these schools.
We are not expecting miracles. What is important is that we see growth and consolidation. Even the slightest of improvements in results to a struggling school is a victory within itself.
I am so proud to honour some of these schools here tonight.
Not only have some of these schools achieved sustained growth in the last few years, they have done so quite dramatically!
For example, at Rocklands Primary, in Mitchell's Plain, Grade 3 learners achieved an 87% pass rate in numeracy in 2011. This compared to a 30% pass rate just three years prior.
At Charleston Hill Primary in Paarl, learners increased their Grade 3 numeracy results from 17.6% in 2008 to 32.3% in 2010 to 56.4% in 2011. Similarly, Tyholora Primary in Paarl increased their results from 17.5% in 2008 to 35.1% in 2010 to 57.6% last year.
If these schools continue along this trajectory I can't wait to see what they achieve this year!
But with any kind of success or improvement in education, there is always a story to tell. And in most cases it involves the concept of "hard work" and "team work".
I was privileged today to get the chance to visit Cavalleria Primary in Kraaifontein. This school is receiving an award here tonight. They achieved a 44.7% pass rate in Grade 3 numeracy in 2011.
If one considers that in 2008 they achieved 2.9%, the reality of what they have achieved is staggering. Moving from 2.9% to 15.8% in 2010 and then 44.7% reveals their sustained growth.
The message I get from Mr Carolissen and his team and from many of the other high performing and improving schools in this province is that if we want to make education better, we have to all put in the hard work and we have to all do it together.
Recently, the Western Cape Government launched its new brand and logo, which is "Better Together".
I believe that we can make education better together if we all fulfill the roles that we are supposed to play.
As the WCED, we are responsible for providing the relevant resources, texts and support you need in order to help you improve the quality of your educators and improve learner outcomes.
It is then your responsibility to ensure that you utilise what you have been given fully and that your educators take advantage of the training courses on offer so that we can improve the quality of learner outcomes.
One example of how we can all work better together in education is the recent delivery of millions of workbooks, textbooks and readers in the province to help assist you in improving you learners' literacy and numeracy skills.
As a government we have delivered them - now it is up to you, the schools, to utilise them fully. Encourage your learners to take full advantage of them. I saw first hand at Welgemoed Primary and at Cavalleria Primary today just how excited their learners are with these new books. So please, make them part of your everyday classroom schedule.
If we all stick to our side of the bargain and work as a team, we can certainly make education better together!
I would like to end off by personally thanking all our principals and SGB members present. We appreciate and value your leadership and management in our schools.
Our educators and curriculum advisors in your schools have also done us very proud and we congratulate them for their learner's achievements.
Congratulations and thank you to you all.
With that said, let us continue with tonight's proceedings!