AfriForum says PIRLS international study shows how the state is failing the country’s children

AfriForum has noted the trends indicated by the PIRLS 2021 report in relation to the country and more specifically education with concern. The results of this study were announced today and paint a dark picture of the quality of life and education in South Africa.

PIRLS is the abbreviation for the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement’s Progress in International Reading Literacy Study. It has been undertaken every five years for the past twenty years and sets the global standard for monitoring reading performance at grade 4 level. The findings of the 2021 study were released today. The reading skills of 400 000 learners in 57 countries were tested this time.

According to Alana Bailey, Head of Cultural Affairs at AfriForum, the comparison between the participating countries’ background information reveals the first danger signs regarding conditions in the country. According to the report, the residents’ life expectancy is the lowest of all the participating countries, namely 64 years on average. In contrast, the death rate of babies born alive is the highest of all, namely 26 deaths per thousand births. The closest other countries to this are Egypt and Azerbaijan, both with 17 deaths per thousand births.

The study also shows that South Africa is one of five out of the 57 participating countries that spends the largest amount on education, namely an amount equal to 7% of its GDP. The other countries are Morocco (also 7%), as well as Norway, Sweden and Denmark (each 8%). The ratio of learners per teacher in South Africa is also the highest of the studied countries, namely an average of 30. Iran is in second place with 29 learners per teacher. In terms of the percentage of children in the specific age group who attend school, South Africa is in the fourth worst position, at 87%. Bulgaria follows with 86%, the Slovak Republic with 83% and Jordan with 81%.

In the comparative study of learners’ reading skills in the respective countries, South Africa ranks lowest out of 43 countries. The average figure for international reading achievement is 500, with the best country, Singapore, scoring 587. South Africa’s score is only 288. The report indicates that South African authorities are still investigating the figures. In addition, it is stated that initiatives have been implemented to improve the country’s performance in response to the release of the PIRLS 2016 results. According to that, South Africa held the lowest position out of the 50 countries that participated in that study. However, the current results bear no witness to success in this regard.

AfriForum applauds local schools that are islands of excellence and properly equip children with literacy for their future but expresses serious concerns about the greater majority of schools’ performance. “The BELA Bill, which is currently available for public input again, focuses on all kinds of administrative and ideological issues, such as schools’ language and admissions policies. This threatens the functional schools but will not contribute to improving the performance of the rest. This is how our youth’s futures are stolen by a dysfunctional state,” Bailey says. She calls on parents to take a stand in favour of mother-language education, hold teachers and schools accountable for their performance, and strongly oppose harmful legislation such as the BELA Bill. “The future of our children is in our hands,” she adds.

Similar Posts