More than 20 per cent of primary school children in Zimbabwe reaching Grade 4 are not able to read, write and solve simple mathematical problems.
This was said by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Tumisang Thabela during a Child Budgeting meeting in Harare.
She said 20 percent of children were regressing while some are losing the literacy they would have attained at early learning by the time they reach Grade 4. Thabela said:
The literacy and numeracy levels in our country need to be improved. The results from the ZELA (our foundational learning level internal national Assessment) revealed that there is 75 percent literacy among our Grade 2 learners who were sampled and 72 percent numeracy levels among the same sample.
In both cases, it was clear that we were shy of the target by more than 20 percent. This meant that more than 20 percent of learners who went into Grade 3 and in Grade 4 this year were not ready in terms of literacy and numeracy foundational skills.
Literacy is defined as the ability to understand, critically analyze, and create a variety of forms of communication, including oral, written, visual, digital, and multimedia, to accomplish one’s goals.
Numeracy is defined as the ability to understand and apply mathematical concepts, processes, and skills to solve problems and make decisions in a variety of situations, including real-life scenarios.
Meanwhile, Thabela said there is a need to collectively invest in foundational learning to ensure that learners perform better in upper grades. She said:
20 percent of children in class are actually regressing as learning becomes more and more difficult.
They become regressive and they end up losing even the literacy that they had by Grade 2, which is why I always say when we complain that a child has failed at Grade 7, we are complaining a bit late. We should have complained in Grade 2.
These grades will ensure that a child poor performs poorly in upper grades and beyond because as the stuff they are exposed to becomes more difficult, their gaps widen.
To us, foundational learning is the most fundamental key to any learning g success in our system and in our schools.
We need to collectively invest in this as learners and stakeholders in the education sector.