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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Panyaza Lesufi announces top performing primary schools ‘to kick-start a skills revolution’

Charles Molele

MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi recently announced the performance results of more than 900 primary schools in Gauteng, saying the move was intended to empower Grade 1- 9 learners to achieve functional literacy and acquire skills that match labour market demands.

Lesufi was addressing 6 000 teachers, HODs and principals at the inaugural primary school summit held at Rhema Bible Church in Randburg, north of Johannesburg.

“We are going to measure performance of primary schools – from the performance of the principal, school teachers, HODs and the resources and infrastructure of the school.  We are transforming the whole education sector and preparing our children for a better future,” said Lesufi. 

“Gone are the days when primary schools were recommended in terms of the uniform the learners wore to school. We are now going to apply rankings to all schools just as we grade hotels in terms of stars, from 3 to 4 and 5 stars.” 

Lesufi said from 2020 academic year, Grade 1 to Grade 4 learners in the province would now learn about coding, sign language, entrepreneurship and many other skills to match the labour market and the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“Our focus is to build the skills of the future. We need to embrace new changes that are coming in future as a result of technological advancements. If we don’t get our education system right we will never get the skills for our economy.”

The summit was also addressed by the department’s Deputy Director-General Albert Charney and head of department Edward Mosuwe.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura delivered a keynote address.

“This inaugural summit is quite historic. We are not only fixing education. We are fixing the foundational phases of our education system. A house built on shifting sands cannot withstand the storms,” said Makhura.

“Todate, the spotlight was on matric results only. We must now shine the spotlight on our primary schools. This summit is important for us because the Diagnostic Report says the problems we have in matric and post-matric stages arise from the early phases of our education system.”

Makhura said education was important for the future of Gauteng – the country’s economic hub, which comprises of approximately 14.7 million people.

 “As it were, 85% of Gauteng’s total budget is spent on Education, Health and Social Development. We must spend all our resources to educate our people.”  

Mosuwe, Gauteng education’s HOD, said in his presentation that one of the most worrying issues of primary school results was the increasing high failure rate and repetition.

At least 21 000 learners failed their subjects in 2019. 

“Most of the overage learners are due to having repeated at least one grade in their school career. Most of the learners who are at least two years older than their cohort would have repeated grades in more than one phase,” said Mosuwe.

“In the interpretation of the graph above, it is important to remember that a learner may not repeat more than once in a phase, accordingly the number of learners repeating in the “last grade” in a phase; i.e Grades 3, 6 and 9, appear fewer than in the following grades – Grade 1, 4 and 10. Grade 7 is an exception, as this is the last year of primary school and schools seem to promote learners so that they can move to secondary school.”

Mosuwe said in the primary school level, very little difference exists between the % passes in the fee-paying and the no-fee

schools. However, in the Secondary schools the difference becomes a lot more noticeable. “There is an overall drop in the performance of the learners when they get to Grade 8, as is true will all of the subjects, this is however, more pronounced in the no-fee schools,” said Mosuwe.

Mosuwe said in the primary school level, very little difference exists between the % passes in the fee-paying and the no-fee schools. However, in the Secondary schools the difference becomes a lot more noticeable.

“There is an overall drop in the performance of the learners when they get to Grade 8, as is true will all of the subjects, this is however, more pronounced in the no-fee schools,” said Mosuwe.

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