More improvement needed Maths, English in foundation phase - Expert

More improvement needed Maths, English in foundation phase - Expert

Education expert Mary Metcalfe says the education sector needs to concentrate more on improving English and Mathematics in the foundation phase.

Boy reading book
Boy reading book / iStock

This comes after the 2021 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study showed that 81% of Grade 4 pupils in South Africa are unable to read for meaning in any language.

In 2020, the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education raised concerns over the declining number of pupils who registered for Mathematics.

Only 28% of pupils took Maths in South Africa and 45% achieved less than the pass mark 30%.

Metcalfe says the improvement of English and Mathematics in schools will benefit the entire system in terms of quality, efficiency and greater equity.

"We need to be able to become much more efficient in a way we use our resources and education, particularly because we have a lot of constraints as a country and what that requires is that more learners succeed from the foundation phase and the more the learners succeed, the more we will be able to reduce class sizes because there won't be a high rate or repetition in grades.


She adds that teachers have a responsibility to guide pupils in terms of their social development, cognitive development as well as their emotional development.

These educators are the learners’ support system while in school to ensure that they are not bullied by other learners.

"It stems from the teacher’s responsibility to make sure that the school environment is one of respect where it is not accepted practice for any learner to be bullied. Teachers who are themselves subscribing to the high standrads of professionalism need to be paricipating in developing a culture in the school where bullying will not be accepted".

-School Infrastructure-

The issue of poor infrastructure in South African schools is still a huge concern.

After 30 years of democracy, some schools still have dilapidated infrastructure affecting teaching and learning processes.

Metcalfe says schools that are located in areas that were former homelands under apartheid which were under-developed are still trying to catch up.

She says parents and School Governing Bodies (SGBs) should help maintain the existing infrastructure.

"Because there is no active involvement of the community supporting the principals to maintain the infrastructure, in addition to addressing the apartheid legacy in mud schools, pit latrines. My biggest question to everybody is what are we doing to maintain the infrastructure? "


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