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Khula Funda Literacy Project

Driving Change through education

“Change is possible. We must focus on improving literacy and numeracy levels in the first four years of schooling. This must be programmatic, properly resourced, reach every teacher who needs it and have clear indicators for success in both implementation and outcomes” – Professor Mary Metcalfe

The Challenge

Most children in South Africa are not receiving the support they need to become eager, motivated and skilled readers. The 2016 National Reading Survey  found that:

  • Only 4% of adults live in a home with more than 20 books.
  • Only 7% of South Africans check out books from libraries.
  • Only 15% of adults who live with children read aloud to them more than once a week.
  • 78% of South African Grade 4 students cannot read for meaning in any language. This means they cannot retrieve an explicitly stated fact in a passage they just read.

Children who have access to books, who hear stories early and often, and who read for pleasure regularly – in languages they speak and understand – develop better literacy skills. They are better equipped to do well in all subjects, including maths. This is backed up by significant local and international research.

 For example:

  • Children with at least 20 books at home are more likely to complete school and reach higher education. Books help the most when parents are not highly educated.

  • Reading aloud to children demonstrates how print works, and builds many skills, including vocabulary, grammar, focus and attention span, and communication. It also inspires children to learn to read.

  • Free voluntary reading, when children choose what they want to read, and read for enjoyment, improves all literacy skills, including reading ability, vocabulary, grammar, writing style and spelling.

  • Children are more motivated to read when adults respond to and encourage their efforts.

Our Approach

We commence our programmes at the primary school level because it is at this level that learners’ foundation in Maths and Literacy is rooted. Young people need to be prepared for learning and working in the 21st century. Fulfilling this need requires the development of digital literacy skills – both amongst learners and educators.

Educators are the stewards of education and vehicles for change. As such, we prefer interventions directed towards teachers. This focus will also embed sustainable transformations in schools.

Communities surrounding schools play a vital role in learners’ achievement in school. A critical programmatic assumption is that there is a need to include community members. Communities and community assets have a role to play in turning schools into centres of learning that embrace not only learners and educators but also the wider community.

We approached Nal’ibali to work with seven primary schools in Trevor Noah Foundation’s Khulani Schools Programme for a period of 1 year. The programme will support children’s literacy development through four key activities:

  • Place young people in schools (“Story Sparkers”) to drive fun reading activities in African languages and help schools build a culture of reading.
  • Supply classrooms with reading materials and distribute reading materials to learners, in their respective home languages and English.
  • Conduct training for foundation phase teachers and caregivers/family members, supported by digital tools.
  • Use media, campaigns and events to drive community engagement to support reading.

The Project In Action