SA’s participation in an international study assessing pupils’ ability to read with meaning has cost R65m.
These figures, released publicly for the first time, are contained in a document titled “Setting reading benchmarks in South Africa”, which was published on the basic education department’s website on November 5.
According to the document, the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (Pirls) assessments in 2011 and 2016 cost about R20m and R45m respectively.
The Pirls test, administered every five years by the Netherlands-based International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, provides comparative data on how well children in a certain grade can read, assessing whether this standard improves, remains stagnant or gets worse.
According to the Centre for Evaluation and Assessment (CEA) at the University of Pretoria, which has been responsible for administering the Pirls study locally since 2006, the department of basic education contributed more than half of the funds for the 2016 study, while the CEA and the University of Pretoria paid the balance.
The department’s spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, told Sunday Times Daily that Grade 4 and 6 pupils from about 300 schools are expected to participate in Pirls 2021.
Based on figures on the IEA website, the department will be expected to pay R4m for just the participation cost if it chooses to take part in the paper-only version of the Pirls assessment in 2021. This excludes the costs of, among other things, fieldworker recruitment, training and data collection.