I have been attending a course for teachers run by the Schools Development Unit at UCT.
One of the issues raised was the Pirls (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) 2006 International Report. This referred to a test of Grade 5 pupils from 72 countries. Candidates were carefully selected from different types of schools and from different areas of each country.
A number of sobering statistics emerged - the most shocking being that the SA pupils were placed last in both Maths and English. Evidently their comprehension skills were particularly poor. This means that we cannot compete with most developing countries. Russia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Korea were at the top. We were trounced by our neighbours - Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
In 30 years of teaching I have observed that a steady rise in the pupil: teacher ratio correlates with a decline in standards. This was noted in the Pirls Report: the Chinese ratio was 1:18; in Britain it was 1:22; in SA it was 1:35. The SA ratio …