The future of a nation which puts reading with meaning at the forefront of early childhood education is sure to succeed, thus breaking the rampant cycle of unemployment, poverty and inequality, says Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga.
The goals set out by President Ramaphosa to ensure every child learns to read with meaning by the age of 10 is being advanced by Motshekga.
In keeping with the findings of the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2018 report which has identified weaknesses in the South African education system, she has called for a Reading Revolution.
“The TALIS report confirms the direction that needs to be taken if the country needs to register drastic improvements in the education system. There is consensus that we need to fix the system from the bottom.
“Our number one priority, therefore, is to improve the foundational skills of literacy and numeracy, especially reading with meaning. Early childhood development must be underpinned by a Reading Revolution,” she said in her Basic Education Budget Vote Speech recently.
“We know that there is a clear link between educational outcomes and later life outcomes, such as access to jobs. Therefore, the only way that South Africa is going to achieve meaningful social and economic transformation, is by making sure that children across all of society, especially in poor communities, learn to read, write and do mathematics in the early grades, so that they are equipped to go on to further educational opportunities,” she said.
The Minister’s concern is one that is shared by Professor Yusuf Karodia who is on a mission to donate one million books to get learners at disadvantaged schools reading.
Professor Yusuf Karodia, founder of MANCOSA – a higher education institution in Southern Africa, is a strong believer that reading is an essential ingredient for children to improve their literacy, further their education and to brighten their future.
Through the Yusuf Karodia Foundation, he has launched the “Million Books Project” which aims to provide more than a million books to school children across South Africa through mobile libraries.
“Research has shown that access to libraries improves learner performance and increases their chances of success. A literate, educated society is a safer, healthier, and more prosperous society. Sadly, hundreds of schools lack libraries.
“The mobile libraries can be wheeled from one classroom to another and learners can easily access a diverse collection of books,” said Karodia.
In the coming weeks and months, MANCOSA will be donating 30 mobile libraries to schools in East London, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria, Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg, Polokwane and Cape Town ahead of International Literacy Day on 8 September.
The mobile libraries are being rolled out through the Read to Lead campaign in partnership with the Department of Basic Education and NPO, New Africa Education Foundation.
Speaking at a handover event at Brooklyn Heights Primary School in Chatsworth, south of Durban, Magnate Ntombela, Registrar at MANCOSA, said: “Reading broadens the mind and provides a rich perspective of local and global happenings for people who don’t get an opportunity to travel.
“Reading in the formative school years is important, otherwise it is difficult to catch up later on and a gap exists throughout one’s life continuing into higher education and working life.”
He said parents needed to be more involved in the education of their children and that positive expectations from educators and parents significantly impacted learner outcomes.
Rathna Pather, Head of the School of Education at MANCOSA, said: “Reading is a critical component of a child’s life. Nothing can replace the joy of being gifted with a book which triggers a child’s imagination and encourages sensory learning.”
She said if parents were to invest time reading to their children from a young age, they would learn to love books and open their minds to a world of possibilities.
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