IT IS a point of shame that Mzansi school children are getting worse at reading every year.

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study released last year found that 78% of South Africa’s grade 4 pupils did not understand what they read.

But this is not a surprise. For the past 20 years, experts have warned us of this growing problem.

Rally to Read

Rally to Read, a campaign organised and supported by READ Educational Trust, was launched to encourage children to love reading and books.

Celeste Hewett, managing director of READ, an education advocacy and activist group, said they now include schools in KZN, Free State, Eastern Cape and Western Cape, but focus on schools in rural areas.

Rally to Read starts on the weekend of 8 and 9 September in Free State, then goes to KZN on 20 October before going to Western Cape on 27 and 28 October. The rally ends in Eastern Cape on 3 and 4 November.

Hewett said: “Selected schools are visited three years in a row. This is the smallest allowed window of time needed to achieve sustainable results.”

Rally also provides educational materials and teacher training during the meetings. Our education system fails to supply support and materials teachers need to inspire the children.

SPARK Schools

SPARK Schools also operates a teacher upliftment project wherein they recruit teachers within five years of graduating and invest in extra training for them.

Stacey Brewer, co-founder and CEO of SPARK Schools, said: “Given proper support, Mzansi teachers can produce outstanding results with their pupils.

“We teach reading and writing skills to grades R to 3. While the complexity increases over time, pupils learn to read with a wider context, ask questions and detect connections in the whole text.”

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