One of the worst school grades for failure is Grade 1.
This startling fact was revealed by Eastern Cape Education MEC Mandla Makupula.
The MEC said 20% of Grade 1 children failed in 2016, which he termed a Grade 1 crisis.
This means that one out of five Grade 1 children fail every year.
The worst failure rates in the Eastern Cape are matric (35%) and Grade 10 (25%), and now the third worst has been established as Grade 1, in which 20% of children fail.
This year the province has budgeted to spend more on education – R34.7-billion of the province’s total R78.2-billion – than any other department.
Most Grade 1 children are only seven years old when they experience academic failure for the first time.
The Grade 1 failure rate came out as Makupula was presenting findings on the performance assessment report of pupils countrywide.
Makupula said the province had the highest failure or repetition rate for Grade 1 children in the country.
He said that in 2016, 36 000 pupils children repeated Grade 1, while 76 000 children from Grade 1 to Grade 3 had experienced being failed.
A total of 200 000 pupils from all grades in the province failed in 2016, which he said had cost the department R2-billion.
The performance assessment report comes less than three months after a study conducted by the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) revealed that 80% of Grade 4 pupils in South Africa cannot read for meaning.
Makupula revealed the most recent findings on Friday during a meeting held at the East London Education Institute in Stirling, East London.
Out of the 5 400 schools in the province, 4 500 offered Grade 1.
Makupula cited overcrowded classrooms as one of the causes of this crisis – more than 20% of Grade 1 pupils were crammed into classes of more than 50 pupils.
“This is an awful situation for the entire country.
“You cannot tell me that children starting school can fail to that extent.
“There is not much school work to do in that grade.
“This failure rate is very high and this shows that we are missing something as a country,” Makupula said.
A graph in the report shows that the repetition rate for Grade 1 for the entire country was between 15% and 20% (the worst) – and this worst was the Eastern Cape.