NAPTOSA Comments on the release of the PIRLS - 5 December 2017
No new PIRLS of wisdom just yet – Lessons to Learn
President of NAPTOSA, Mr Nkosiphendule Ntantala, while welcoming the global release of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2016 presented to stakeholders in Centurion today, questioned what lessons we can learn from this study.
South Africa still performs at the bottom of the 50 country list. The Russian Federation tops the list at 581 points and South Africa again scores the lowest on 320 points. Mr Ntantala asks what we can learn from the Russian Federation in order to improve our educational reading strategies in South Africa. ‘Given that the Russian Federation spends almost double the instructional time South Africa does on language and reading, it is perhaps not surprising that it continues to top the list,’ said Ntantala. Furthermore, the Russian Federation has better instructional strategies in that by the time learners reach Grade 1, they are better prepared for school. ‘Reasons for this could be because pre-schooling in that country is of a high standard, something NAPTOSA has continuously urged the Department of Basic Education to formalise,’ said Ntantala.
NAPTOSA notes that 71% of our Grade 4 learners wrote the test in the language which they speak at home. The lesson to be learned is that learners should be allowed to write assessments in their mother-tongues; a position which NAPTOSA continues to advocate. ‘Thus, despite the fact that there was a negligible increase in the bottom line result, this is likely due to the fact that learners wrote in their mother-tongue language. What this result does is mask the fact that we are still performing poorly overall. We need to question whether this is a reflection of the quality of language teaching in our country,’ said Ntantala.