Implementation of KILT’s initiatives is backed by the principals, assisted by volunteers and supported by donor funding.
Primary school remedial reading
Illiteracy levels in classrooms in South Africa have reached alarming proportions.
The 2016/7 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study shows that nearly 8 out of 10 Grade 4 learners in South Africa cannot read with understanding in any language. Of the 50 countries surveyed for reading ability among schoolchildren, South Africa came last.
Low literacy levels have a hugely detrimental impact on children’s ability to learn. Classrooms are overcrowded with a backlog of learners who are not making any progress. This widens academic gaps while learners become ever more disengaged.
Our response was to initiate a pilot remedial reading programme in the language of instruction for Grade 3 learners in mid-August 2018. This aims to help learners enrich their vocabulary, strengthen their thinking skills and increase reading fluency and comprehension, with support from skilled teachers and involved parents.
We found that significant improvement could be achieved in a short space of time. On average, the marks of nearly half the learners in the larger schools moved up one rating notch within six weeks. This success built the learners’ self-confidence and increased their participation in lessons. It also fostered a sense of self-worth and a belief that they could do better. New school libraries have been created, and many learners are now members of their local libraries.
This programme has now been extended to reach more learners, holding out the possibility of an overall increase in literacy levels in the broader Knysna community.
“The primary school reading programme has been very successful. Most of the learners who started with lower marks are on levels 6 and 7. They now read with understanding. This makes it easy for Grade 4 learners to understand instructions given by their teachers in other subjects. “They now have the confidence to read in front of the whole class. There is also a big improvement in their school attendance.”
“The introduction of remedial reading sessions boosted reading ability and – what’s more – comprehension of what is read. My best moment? When kids’ eyes shine and I can see they know the answer and can’t wait to tell me.”