Only 29% of Grade 4 pupils actually understand what they are reading – and their teachers are not fully literate either.
Shine consultant Linda Rutter said the shocking statistic from the Department of Basic Education could be attributed to parents who did not encourage reading at home.
Rutter held a workshop on the first day of the VW Literacy Conference in Uitenhage yesterday.
“It’s very important for children to learn to enjoy reading in the early years of life,” she said. “In the foundation phase they learn to read. “In Grade 4 they read to learn, and if they can’t read by Grade 4, they’re lost.”
The importance of teaching children the basics of reading was a key conference message.
Rutter said not being able to read meant you could not get a job – “this means we’re losing an entire generation of children”.
“You basically can’t do anything. It’s a big problem with only 29% of Grade 4 pupils able to read for meaning,” she said.
Workshop trainer Nosipho Mabaso urged parents to spend time reading with their children.
“If you can spend your evening watching soapies from 6pm to 9pm, surely you can spend 10 minutes reading with your child,” she said.
For more than 80 pupils from seven Uitenhage primary schools and early childhood development centres, stories were brought to life by Nal’ibali literacy mentors.
Storyteller Gcina Mhlope told a story of hope and perseverance, Ibali lika Mam’Nolitha.