Majority of Grade seven learners in Lupane district can’t read: Research

Grade seven learners in Lupane district have difficulties in reading, an issue that has resulted in most schools in the area recording zero percent pass rates in the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC) examinations, research has established.

This was revealed by Dr Christopher Ndlovu, a lecturer at Lupane State University (LSU) during an interview on The Breakfast Club, Tuesday.

Dr Ndlovu was giving an account of research conducted by LSU to establish the reason why most primary schools in the Lupane district recorded zero percent pass rates in national examinations.

The 2020 grade seven examination national pass rate dropped to 37.11 percent, from 46.9 percent in 2019.

Dr Ndlovu said the research, which was first conducted four years ago in conjunction with the University of the Free State in South Africa and the Baobab, showed that the majority of the learners in schools in the district were reading at a standard below their level.

“We were concerned as an institution about the poor results. That was when we embarked on the research and we reached out to our partners for assistance. Some tests were conducted and we found that the majority of the grade seven learners read at a standard of grade four level. Ten percent read at a level of grade two and three while the other ten percent read at a level of grade seven,” said Dr Ndlovu.

“Reading is the basis of the whole learning process. If you can’t read then you can’t pass because you would not be in a position to understand what the question is demanding of you. This is the reason why most learners in this district failed their final examinations.”

He noted that to remedy the situation, the University mobilised teachers to conduct camp schools during the holidays in order to assist the learners.

“During the day the teachers would take the learners for their lessons and in the evening we would help teachers with the best ways to deal with non-readers. Through these programs, the learners improved immensely and the schools which released their learners to attend our classes moved from the zero percent pass rate bracket,” he said.

“It’s a pity that the lockdown has affected our program but we are trying to acquire donors who will assist us to have resources that will enable us to conduct our lessons. So far we have a donor who has promised to avail radios for rural schools so that learners can be able to access their lessons digitally. We also hope that resources permitting we can have this program in all rural districts in the country.”

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE)