EDITORIAL | Vital to encourage culture of reading


The latest available research measuring the literacy rate in SA lists our country as having a 93% rate. Not bad, one might argue, especially considering our history and how the majority of black South Africans were denied quality education prior to 1994.
But, the Unesco research basically looked at the ability of people to identify and speak words out loud.
The findings of the Progress in International Reading Literacy study, conducted in 2016, shows us the real crisis we are facing.
The study, which tested reading comprehension of grade 4 pupils, found that 78% could not grasp what they were reading.
It speaks volumes about our education system and a poor reading culture not only in schools but in our homes.
Therefore, initiatives such as the Nal’ibali reading for enjoyment campaign must be applauded and supported.
Through its campaigns, which targets young children by trying to make reading fun, it shows an investment in future generations – the very people who must grow up to become innovators and compete in a global space.
The effects of putting in that extra time inculcating a love for reading are evident.
On Tuesday, this newspaper reported on Nal’ibali’s partnership with Clowns Without Borders SA, which takes literacy-focused shows to schools.
Vuba Primary School principal Shumikazi Sibhozo explained how in 2016, when the school joined the VW Community Trust Programme – which has an education literacy centre focused on nurturing a culture of reading and learning – it was at the “bottom of the batch”.
“By the end of 2017, we had jumped to number one. Our children are constantly reading and they love it because they understand the material,” Sibhozo said.
Vuba Primary School’s story could be the story of each and every primary school if the education department partnered with business support campaigns such as those run by Nal’ibali.
It is only when we read – and read with understanding – that we can become critical thinkers and play our role as citizens making valuable input in building our country.

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