Reading creates a future

2018-09-26 06:01

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If a learner regularly reads in his or her home language, the child’s reading ability and understanding of what is read, will be improved drastically.

The importance of reading in a mother-tongue language to address the reading crisis in the country, is a recommendation by Masennya Dikotla, chief executive officer of the Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy.

This followed a worrying finding by the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study that large numbers of South African learners struggle to understand what they are reading.

South Africa was placed last out of 50 countries in the recently released report which is based on a study conducted and completed in 2016.

The study found that eight out of ten Gr. 4 learners struggle to read for meaning.

“If children can’t read, they can’t learn, and are more likely to be trapped in the scourge of poverty, hopelessness and unemployment. Being able to read enables children to live a better future,” said Dikotla.

To address the reading crisis, a programme called Breakthrough to Literacy (BTL), has been introduced.

Published by the Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy, the BTL method utilises as the basis for learning to read and write, the aural and oral language skills the child brings into the classroom from home.

This programme is available in numerous South African languages, namely Zulu, Pedi, Tsonga, Tswana, Sotho, Venda, Swati, Xhosa, Ndebele, Afrikaans, Nama, as well as !Xun.

“This is a mother-tongue literacy course for Gr. 1 to Gr. 3. It is very powerful in teaching children to read with comprehension.

“The programme develops their writing and listening skills. It is a very effective literacy methodology that responds to curriculum and educational contexts, ensu­ring that it achieves results with the children, who learn to read and write freely within the first year of schooling and with their teachers, develop knowledge and skills in early literacy pedagogy (the method and practice of teaching) and classroom management,” said Dikotla.

According to Dikotla, the BTL programme has been implemented with great success in some schools across South Africa, adding that BTL and all Molteno’s other materials comply with the Department of Basic Education’s curriculum requirements.

“The programme is highly effective in developing children’s vocabulary and phonology (understanding how to express sounds).

“It is unique because it works in children’s mother-tongue and combines the different elements of literacy pedagogy into one programme that is relevant to the life and language experiences of African children,” said Dikotla.

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