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The coronavirus pandemic has reversed years of steady gains in maths and language skills, according to  the latest systemic tests conducted by the Western Cape education department. The results lay bare the devastating results of the government’s response to the virus, which saw huge disruption to face-to-face teaching.

The Western Cape has been administering systemic tests annually since 2002 but did not do so in 2020 due to the pandemic. The results from the 2021 tests, released on Sunday, reveal pupils fared significantly worse than their peers in 2019, with the most acute losses among grade 3 pupils. They scored an average of 38.9% for language in 2021, down from 44.2% in 2019, while their average maths score plunged to 46.7% from 54.5% previously...

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