Provincial 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 in our Grade 3 and 6 literacy and numeracy assessment tests in 2010.
Last year's testing was significant as it was the first time such testing had been conducted on such a massive scale.
Many thanks to all who worked tirelessly to ensure that these tests were made possible. This was an enormous logistical undertaking which was professionally administered by the WCED and outside service providers. So I thank you.
It is notable that it was the first time in South Africa that Grade 9 learners were tested.
Another first for this province was the inclusion of independent schools in the testing.
And I would like to personally welcome representatives from El Shaddai Christian School, who are the first recipients of our independent school awards in these tests. We are delighted that you are able to join us here tonight.
These tests are of paramount importance to us.
As many of you are aware, ensuring that our learners are able to read, write and calculate at the appropriate level is a non-negotiable. If we are to improve learner outcomes in this province, we need to fulfill these basic requirements.
However, an important aspect of this is to know where our learners' strengths and weaknesses lie. If we do not set benchmarks for our learners, and test them against these benchmarks on a regular basis, we will never be able to target individual learning needs and improve learner outcomes.
If the results of 2010 are anything to go by, it is evident that these targeted interventions and strategies are making a difference. For example, the results in Grade 3 revealed increases in both literacy and numeracy with 54.9% of learners achieving 50% or more in literacy, an increase of 1.4% from 2008, and in numeracy, a remarkable 13.3% increase from 35% to 48.3%.
Overall, in Grade 3, 78% of our primary schools in the province improved their results in numeracy, with 52.9% of schools improving by more than 10%.
In literacy, 54.9% of schools improved their results, with 33.3% of schools increasing by more then 10%.
These are encouraging improvements.
But tonight is not about our overall provincial improvements. It is about recognising and acknowledging individual schools for excellence and improved performance.
I am so very proud of all the schools that are present here tonight.
We have before us some of our top performing schools in the province, as well as those that have consistently performed well over the last few years.
Special mention must be made to Sweet Valley Primary School in Bergvliet and Augsburg Landbougimnasium in Clanwilliam who have consistently managed to perform the best in their respective districts. This is the third year in a row that they will receive an award for overall excellence in outcomes.
I think that deserves a round of applause.
Also represented here tonight are the schools that have drastically improved in their performance.
These schools face a myriad of challenges each day but through hard work and determination have managed, in just a short time, to turnaround their results and make us all very proud.
I visited one of these schools yesterday: Impendulo Primary School in Makhaza.
This school achieved impressive improvements in their results, turning the 4% they achieved for numeracy in 2008 to 50% in 2010 - an improvement of 46%.
In literacy they improved by 41.7%, increasing their pass percentage from 16.6% in 2008 to 58.3% in 2010.
Yesterday, I asked their principal, Mrs Pheliswa Busika, who is present tonight, what contributed to such an increase.
It was no surprise that very familiar themes emerged.
This included, amongst other things, an emphasis on "time on task", in other words, spending more time in the classroom, utilising every minute of every school day.
The promotion of reading, writing and calculating during school time and at home was also emphasised, as well as encouraging parental involvement in their children's education.
Another contribution towards their improved performance, as stated by Mrs Busika, was the utilisation of support from the WCED. The school welcomed the expertise on offer, and learned new techniques and skills on how to optimise the delivery of the curriculum and support struggling learners.
But none of these interventions and strategies would have worked if it weren't for one very important factor: teamwork.
This was evident at Impendulo Primary School. They created a strong and committed team that comprised of the principal, the educators, staff and parents, district staff and even the learners themselves.
I am very sure it is the same at all the schools present here tonight.
But every good team needs a good leader, and I would personally like to thank all our principals present before me that we appreciate and value your leadership in our schools.
Our educators and curriculum advisors in your schools have also done us very proud and we congratulate them for their learners' achievements. It was a tough year last year, but through commitment and dedication, you have all achieved success. Congratulations.
Finally, I would like to thank Encyclopaedia Britannica for making a generous contribution towards tonight's winners. Each of the schools awarded tonight will receive a certificate which will enable them to access the full Encyclopaedia Britannica on-line at their schools, which is a wonderful learning resource.
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