South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa prioritised education and the access thereof in his State of the Nation Address.
Part of this was the recognition that early reading is the basic foundation that determines a child’s educational progress, through school, higher education and into the workplace.
This early reading is not just necessary for children's academic journey but it also helps them to make sense of the world, develop their identity, self-confidence and independence, and forms the basis of all future learnings and abilities.
Ramaphosa furthermore said, “if we are to ensure that within the next decade, every 10-year-old will be able to read for meaning, we will need to mobilise the entire nation behind a massive reading campaign.” He expressed the need for initiatives and campaigns that will enable and coordinate a national effort to make early reading feasible.
Also see: Everything President Ramaphosa promised our children in his #SONA2019 speech
What is Shine Literacy?
This alludes to the work that Shine Literacy has been doing over the past eighteen years across South Africa, with literacy programmes that are helping to transform the prospects of some of South Africa’s most vulnerable children, by breaking the destructive cycle of poor literacy and low educational attainment.
The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) found that 78 percent of South African children in Grade 4 do not have the most basic level of reading skills and "cannot read for meaning."
And so to address this crisis, Shine Literacy has established literacy programmes that seek to create a culture of reading, which not only concentrate on supporting children and teachers but also capacitates parents and caregivers.
Making reading an enjoyable daily practice
To do this, the organization has been placing trained unemployed youth in Foundation Phase classrooms through the programme, Khanyisa.
The youth assist teachers by providing every child in the class with structured time to practice reading, increasing their exposure to books, placing reading at the core of the daily schedule in the Foundation Phase.
In the Eastern Cape five schools are running Shine Literacy’s Book Buddies Programme, which is a bilingual approach to ensure that children have the opportunity to read stories in their home language and in their first additional language.
It pairs children in higher and lower grades to read to each other thus drawing on the available resources of proficient readers in the school.
How can parents contribute?
Creating a culture of reading requires a collaborative effort and has to extend into the home – parents/caregivers involvement in their children’s education helps to improve the quality of education.
To address this, Shine Literacy has established Family Literacy Workshops.
The workshops build on the existing understanding of parents and caregivers to help them embrace their vital role in their child’s education. Tips, practical ideas and new resources are handed out during these workshops, enabling parents/caregivers to develop a repertoire of strategies and tools for helping their children to become successful readers and writers.
As Ramaphosa has mentioned, there still remains a need to assist children in the country to fulfil their full academic and personal potential.
Learn more about Shine Literacy by visiting www.shineliteracy.org.za.
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