20 percent Zim primary school pupils cant read and write

LACK of foundational learning coupled with a complex new school curriculum, has seen 20 percent of primary school children in Zimbabwe reaching Grade 4 not being able to read, write and solve simple mathematical problems, a top government official has warned.

By Michael Gwarisa

Literacy and numeracy also defined as the ability to read, write and the ability to understand, reason with, and to apply simple numerical concepts are by world educational standards the building blocks to other skills as they give children the ability to access higher-order skills and other parts of the curriculum.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Ms Tumisang Thabeta told a Child Budgeting meeting in Harare that in Zimbabwe, 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.

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,” said Ms Thabeta.

She added that the ministry was working on the current ZELA and are not sure whether it will be a different story or change the trajectory the Zimbabwean education sector has been taking.

“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 become 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.”

While Zimbabwe may be experiencing challenges around the literacy and numeracy levels, it remains one of the countries with the highest net Primary School enrollment ratio. Nine out of ten children of primary school age are in school.



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