It has been discovered that many schoolchildren are either semi-literate or illiterate in spite of the level of investment in education in South Africa. Research shows that a total of 78% of Grade 3 pupils cannot read for meaning while more than 30% are illiterate.
An education expert, Professor Mary Metcalfe, has noted that fixing this national literacy crisis will take time and hard work, with a lack of access to reading material and textbooks being a major hurdle. She stated that ‘an education system has the responsibility to deliver two essential things for a just society: improve the quality of learning and narrow the gap between students doing well and students doing badly. Education improvement is a long, hard process and expectations of a sudden shift are unrealistic’.
This situation has made some non-governmental organisations come together to curb the high rate of illiteracy among schoolchildren. According to Help2Read, one of the NGOs trying to ensure that children are well educated , ‘the harsh reality is the foundation for literacy is built long before a child begins Grade 1, because children from low-income families hear on average 30 million fewer words than their affluent peers by the age of three’. Other NGOs working to curb illiteracy among South African schoolchildren are Click Foundation, Read to Rise, Wordworks, FunDza Literacy Trust and Nal’ibali.
Photo source: Underway in Ireland