Improving Matric results means going back to early childhood development

The 2016 matric results were released last week, with the national pass rate of 72.5% up by 1.8% compared to previous year’s results.

Following the announcement of the matric results, there is continued concern about the state of education in South Africa. This impacts not only on career prospects for learners, but also on the nation’s ability to build a competent workforce.

The bottom line for education remains on outcomes like matric results, and unless the bottom line improves, the talks, rationalisation and efforts to remedy the situation are of little value. The biggest downfall in South Africa’s education is the failure to improve this bottom line and thus the quality of education in the country.

It is often said that if South Africa is to rid itself of the troika of challenges: Poverty, Unemployment and Inequality we need to focus on three priorities: Education, education & education.

According to Candice Du Preez, Chief Operating Officer at Vastratech, year after year South Africans applaud or commiserate with the Matric class once the results have been released.

“There is an over emphasis on Matric Results, we need to take a more holistic approach to education and consider the importance of what learnings need to take place across all 12 school years with a particular focus on early childhood development and primary school level as well”,  says Candice.

VastraTech fosters people development by empowering people for the modern workplace by providing connected learning solutions.

“This is not addressing the problems we face in education, it is just addressing a symptom and it could easily take our focus off the real responsibility of preparing learners with 21st century skills they can only acquire across all 12 schooling years” adds Candice.

Focus needs to shift toward ensuring the required skills are being mastered at a primary school level giving learners a firm foundation to build onto Candice believes. It’s been proven that the introduction of technology to Matriculants has a huge and positive impact on their marks however if technology can be introduced at an ECD level the results would increase magnificently as 90% of the brain capacity develops before a child reaches age 5 according to research done by ‘Early Childhood Education Degrees, The Milestones of your little Rocket Scientists Development 2013.

Vastratech has found that using technology in early childhood development helps learners engage more actively with the learning material. An assessment that was conducted by Debbie de Jong a learning specialist from the Seven circles educational consultancy in partnership with Vastratech assessed each learner’s ability to make sense of visual stimuli that is appropriate to their age recognized an opportunity for change at the Blair Athol School in Kromdraai to enhance the English language skills of the Grade R students. However, research done by the University of Stellenbosch on Relationships between Visual Perceptual Skill and Mathematic Ability also states that difficulties in Mathematics may therefore stem from levels that are more elementary, with the most basic level involving the cognitive tools required for mathematics. Its widely accepted that visual perception skill forms the foundation of all learning and for mathematics and reading in particular and perhaps this would assist in improving the 51.1% National Maths pass rate for 2016.

The class that received the ICT intervention and training saw a huge change in their skills. The children showed more mature behaviour and responded well to tasks and questions. The children in the ICT classroom went a step further by assisting each other with their given tasks. Drastic improvements were achieved by the children with regards to stabilization, pencil grip and control as well as postural endurance on task behaviour.

Technology’s role in education is not disputed — it is an effective means to enable both student and teacher in creating a more engaging learning environment. For many educational institutions though, the question remains how to efficiently use the technology resources available to them. In South Africa, where improving education is a nationwide concern, the role of technology is not just a luxury, but perhaps a much-needed solution.

Vastratech will be releasing new and exciting products that will be mainly focused on SEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and will be working closely with GDE to ensure that all teachers are trained to full capacity to help improve learner’s progression through technology.

Technology, the internet, a multi-skilled workforce, innovation and collaboration are critical to the success of the knowledge economy. To thrive in the 21st century, we need to acquire new skills and be able to adapt to a rapidly changing work environment.

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