'The Review finds that close to 3 969 000, or 63%, of young children in South Africa live in poverty. Their development – including physical, cognitive, emotional – is compromised because they are not receiving the services and care they need. Provinces with the highest rates of child poverty are the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Limpopo.
“The returns on investment in early learning, for children under 6, are vastly higher than those from later education, even primary schooling,” says Giese. “Science tells us that early stimulation’s impact on language and numerical ability is immense. The results are life-long: they affect people’s job prospects and earning potential, so early learning is important not only for individuals, but for breaking inter-generational cycles of poverty.”
“There is great inequality across early learning opportunities for South African children,” added Giese. “Children from wealthier families have better access to better quality early learning and therefore have a better chance of succeeding in school and in life. Inequality in SA will never be addressed as long as we continue to have inequality in early life opportunity.”
The impact on later education is evident. The Annual National Assessments show that over 40% of children aren’t able to perform at the expected level in numeracy and literacy by the end of the foundation phase (Grade 3), and performance is poorest amongst the poorest.
“The performance gap that we see at this early stage widens as these children progress through the schooling system,” says Giese.'
The South African Early Childhood Review 2016 is a joint publication between Ilifa Labantwana, the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency.
The full review is available for download here.
"PIRLS 2016 results were released by the Minister of Basic Education Ms Angie Motshekga. The study revealed that 8 in 10 children cannot read for meaning. This new report provides the latest evidence helping us to understand the unfolding reading crisis."
- 8 of 10 SA children cannot read. (PIRLS report page 55)
- SA scores last in reading of 50 countries.
- SA lags far behind other countries. While 78% of SA Grade 4 kids cannot read, in America this is only 4% and in England just 3% cannot read.
- Reading crisis deeper than previously thought.
- Some evidence of improvement in reading 2006 to 2011 but stagnant since 2011.
- SA reading scores stagnant since 2011. There has been no improvement in reading scores over the last five years (i.e. 2011 to 2016). (PIRLS report page 29)
- SA gender gap in reading 2nd highest in the world. Girls score much higher than boys in reading across the board. (PIRLS report page 43).
- SA boys scores seem to have declined between 2011 and 2016. (PIRLS report page 43).
- Declining number of SA students reaching high levels of reading achievement. (PIRLS report page 58).