Xolani Mabunda, 35, sells books and enjoys reading them. He said his wish was to see more African people warm up to the idea of reading books as it will equip them with a lot of wisdom, expand their thinking, reasoning, capacity and help them sharpen their vocabulary. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)
Xolani Mabunda, 35, sells books and enjoys reading them. He said his wish was to see more African people warm up to the idea of reading books as it will equip them with a lot of wisdom, expand their thinking, reasoning, capacity and help them sharpen their vocabulary. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)

Literacy boost for KZN pupils

By Thobeka Ngema Time of article published Sep 9, 2021

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DURBAN - KWAZULU-NATAL is one of three provinces that will benefit from a joint two-year programme that will focus on enhancing literacy initiatives. The other two provinces are the Eastern Cape and Limpopo.

This was revealed on Tuesday, ahead of International Literacy Day on Wednesday.

The UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) said that statistics on literacy and children were a call to action. Approximately 617 million children and adolescents were not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics. Moreover, in the initial phase of the Covid-19 pandemic schools were closed, thereby disrupting the education of 62.3% of the world’s student population of 1.09 billion.

The three provinces will benefit through the Reading and Leadership Strengthening in South African Schools (Reals SA) for Learning During Covid-19 and Beyond, an EU-funded initiative that is implemented by Unicef in partnership with the Department of Basic Education and the National Education Collaboration Trust.

The programme will be implemented in 650 schools in the three provinces, and is expected to reach 292 000 pupils, 65 000 parents, 4 600 teachers, 975 school management team members as well as 104 circuit managers and subject advisers.

Unicef SA representative Christine Muhigana said: “The loss in learning time has resulted in learning losses. Hence the need for interventions such as this one that addresses reading continues to be critical.”

The Reading Recovery part of the programme included providing 650 primary schools with 50 new reading books for each grade. These books are a mix of storybooks for reading for pleasure, and graded readers for learning to read.

Education Department foundations for learning chief director Kulula Manona said the Reals SA programmes provided them with an ideal opportunity to consolidate available resources. It also put systems and processes in place to be accessible to school managers, teachers and parents.

Anglo American’s global head of education, Zaheera Soomar, said it was important to embed information and communication technology (ICT) in schools and curriculums to give young people the skills necessary to survive and thrive in the fourth industrial revolution. Digital resources improved the quality of education in many ways; opening doors to a wealth of information, knowledge and educational resources; and increasing opportunities for different approaches to learning in, and beyond, the classroom.

Pupils who were comfortable using everyday technology and devices to access content and to self-learn were far better positioned to build a life after school.

Numeracy and literacy skills were crucial for economic participation, and using digital resources and technology to improve these skills expanded young people’s opportunities for employment and economic participation.

“Stakeholders need to come together in rolling out ICT infrastructure and digital learning in schools across the country, especially in rural areas. As part of Anglo American SA’s Education Programme, we launched an ICT Education Project, working with a range of partners, and are currently rolling out devices and training to teachers and pupils, including infrastructure and digital support to teachers and pupils,” Soomar said.

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