Low literacy, numeracy skills worrying
12 months ago, 11 Jan 22:20
The findings contained in the Uwezo 2016 report released last year, dubbed Beyond Basics Study, are as startling today as they were then, and it should be on the Ministry of Education agenda of 2018. The study was undertaken in 200 schools in 10 sub-counties across the country. It assessed writing, listening and spelling, as well as learners’ ability to perform mathematical (numeracy) problems that included operations, combined with critical thinking skills. From the key areas of interest, the findings included low competency rates for division and writing for Standard 5 and 6, as well as less than 50 per cent of Standard 5 and 6 learners having spelling competencies when assessed using Standard 4 work. It was also found that repetition is still rife in public schools and there was almost no difference between boys and girls regarding their fluency in reading. READ And the results are appalling when we arrive at the conclusion that less than half of the students who demonstrated fluency in reading did not understand what they read! Less than 20 per cent of learners are able to read and tell the date on the calendar and read a clock face to indicate the hour and minutes correctly. From the assessment, only three out of 100 children got a critical thinking question right. These assessment results have far-reaching implications on the action framework for the ministry’s investment. Now that we have moved closer to gender parity in enrolment and learning outcomes, the minority needs to shift gears to enhance individual and collective learning gains. The ministry and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) need to figure out how to handle the transition processes for learners who have gone through Tusome and Priede, which were only being offered at lower primary school. A conscious decision has to be made to build the capacity of teachers in upper primary school to handle these learners to ensure consistency. If this does not happen, the country is likely to drop the relay baton and the initial investment made is bound to go to waste. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT The implementation of the framework for teacher education in Kenya developed in 2016 needs to take effect. Hopefully, substantial investment will go into specific literacy and numeracy support for teachers in upper grades as part of their continuous professional development to safeguard the investment already made at lower grades. Learners who have transited to higher grades and are lagging behind need support not only at school (classroom and play) but also at home. Parents, guardians and caregivers need to be sensitised to help to connect classroom learning and contextual or environmental occurrences and activities. Children need to learn how portions of food served relate to division or multiplication. This type of engagement will help to anchor the learning and eliminate the abstract and/or blind spots in the process. Also, teachers should be encouraged to use the time allocated on the timetable for clubs and societies to reinforce what is happening in class outside the ...
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