S P HIGH SCHOOL PUPIL’S WINNING ESSAY
One of the finalists in a competition entered by pupils across Cape Town
THE Al-Ikhlaas Academia Library and Resource Centre ran an essay contest in which pupils from across Cape Town participated. This is the fourth essay of the 12 finalists that we are publishing every Thursday. ● Today’s essay is by Emlin Hendricks from South Peninsula High School. Topic: Enhancing literacy and numeracy in the present age:
THE standard of education in South Africa is one of the lowest in the world. Studies conducted by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries and the Tims (trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) showed South Africa is ranked as one of the poorest countries in terms of education.
We are ranked 75th out of a table of 76 relatively rich countries regarding the standard of education. In a test involving 580 000 pupils from 57 countries, we are ranked near the bottom in many categories.
These categories include basic maths, and reading and writing ability. The question this leaves everyone asking, is “why?”.
In spite of investing so much money (more than most countries in the world) into education, it seems as though South Africa does not get improved results and positive feedback form schools across the country.
Currently, I feel in order to improve literacy and numeracy, we have to look at the staff and teachers at the schools. Whether they are male or female, the subject teachers have to be well educated themselves and have to be well qualified in their specialised subject.
This is specifically directed to teachers in the more important fields of Mathematics and English. This ensures that teachers can thoroughly prepare students and ensure that they understand the work. Also, employing more teachers can reduce the workload and allow for smaller classes.
Smaller classes allow for more oneon-one interaction with the teacher and students so that students struggling with a certain topic can get more assistance from the teacher to grasp a better understanding.
An innovative idea for improving lessons is making them more fun and interactive and have shorter periods spread out over each day, so that learners stay interested.
In addition, in order for teachers to stay relevant and modern with the rest of the world in terms of teaching methodology, teachers should go to training workshops to learn new methods and styles of teaching that will best suit the calibre of learner they are teaching.
Different students grow up and live in different environments. Everyone has a different outlook on life and some may experience different things to others.
Students who come from impoverished, abusive and gang-riddled communities and areas may be more susceptible to falling into the same category as their parents and community members because someone disregards them and says they won’t amount to anything.
It is rare that children growing up in those situations are motivated to make it by working hard at their education, because this is what they are taught from a young age.
This is why it is important to change the mindset of children living in these areas. The government and businesses have to invest in children in these areas and create more education centres and programmes to help those who are struggling in subjects such as Maths and English.
I believe that this will improve the overall standards of numeracy and literacy in the country if education is made available to all children.
An additional factor which can help is having libraries and computer labs at schools in the country or at institutions in the community. This can assist in improving computer literacy, which I believe will be very influential in the near future.
Having libraries and computer labs in schools gives students more opportunities to learn in different ways, and is a great resource for doing tasks and assignments. If students are given a designated time in the library and lab at least once or twice a week, it will give them more of an opportunity and motivate them to read, which will improve literacy.
In conclusion, I think that there is a lot of work to be done in the country regarding the enhancement of numeracy and literacy, but if we set goals and work towards these goals, then over time we will begin to see results. The youth of South Africa are full of raw talent that needs to be nurtured to ensure a bright future.
EMLIN Hendricks and South Peninsula High School English teacher Mark Frank.