Original Research - Special Collection: Rethinking literacy and pedagogic agency in the 4IR

Intermediate Phase learner performance in English: A quantitative analysis

Bongiwe Mtambo, Lindiwe Tshuma
Reading & Writing | Vol 14, No 1 | a430 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v14i1.430 | © 2023 Bongiwe Mtambo, Lindiwe Tshuma | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 March 2023 | Published: 12 October 2023

About the author(s)

Bongiwe Mtambo, Department of African Languages and Linguistics, Faculty of Humanities, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Lindiwe Tshuma, Teaching and Learning Unit, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: According to the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS, 2006 with 87%, 2011 with 82%, 2016 with 78%, 2021 with 81%), an international reading comprehension assessment conducted at the Grade 4 level, South African learners perform very poorly in reading comprehension, even when reading in their African home languages.

Objectives: To analyse learner performance in the Intermediate Phase (IP) focusing on English First Additional Language (EFAL) before and after the implementation of the Primary School Reading Improvement Programme (PSRIP) in Johannesburg West (JW) district. The study aims to analyse EFAL learning gains obtained during the pilot phase of the PSRIP in JW district.

Method: Quantitative data (learner performance in EFAL) was collected from South Africa-School Administration and Management System (SA-SAMS) in six schools in JW. Learner performance marks from Term 1 before PSRIP was implemented and from Term 4 after PSRIP implementation were analysed quantitatively using System Analysis Program Development (SAP) data and analytics solutions.

Results: Learner performance analysis based on the DBE pass rates indicates positive outcomes, learner performance increased in 3 out of 6 schools; however, based on the PSRIP pass rates, only 2 out of 6 schools managed to get 90% of their learners obtaining at least 50% in EFAL after PSRIP was introduced.

Conclusion: Implementation of PSRIP affected learner performance positively; however, more support is needed to meet the PSRIP targets.

Contribution: Based on these findings, there is a need to further investigate how (if at all) the PSRIP strategies can be used in other languages that are taught at IP level. Study results will inform language in education policies. Furthermore, the Department of Basic Education’s reading campaigns may adopt the benefits of the PSRIP in improving literacy development in other South African languages including the indigenous languages.


Literacy campaigns; Reading strategies; PSRIP; Integrated Literacy Development model; Reading awareness


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