Reading remains a major obstacle to learning in the South African education system. This problem, which cuts across grades and /or phases has been the subject of research and discussion in many studies including the international report of PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) published on 5 December 2017. The DSC of Bojanala saw it fit to address the problem thus establishing a pilot programme in a few primary schools.
PSA is one of the 4 partners comprising the ‘PwC Consortium’ which is implementing the NECT project in Bojanala.
An effort to address the problem of reading in schools has culminated in the implementation of a reading project in Bojanala district. This project, which was conceived in October 2017 is spearheaded by District Steering Committee (DSC) of the NECT project and it involves 5 primary schools.
The Grade 4 learners who, by design are in a critical cross over year are the beneficiaries of the project. At this grade, the Language of Learning and Teaching (LOLT) changes from home language to English. A total of 5 schools are involved in the pilot and each school has 20 learners participating in the project.
The project is implemented through an English reading programme which is offered across 8 modules. These modules cover areas such as the following:
- Learning the languages of subjects like Maths and Science through enjoyable activities
- Using posters to stimulate language development
- Listening to the Reading Champion model English
- Speaking English in a safe environment where mistakes can be made without fear or ridicule
- Providing feedback to teachers
Furthermore, each school has selected a Reading Champion who works very closely with the 20 learners. These Reading Champions, who are retired teachers receive quarterly training on the programme. The programme is run as an after-school activity and the reading lessons are conducted for 45 minutes in 3 days a week.
The DSC provides coordination and monitoring of the programme and it is envisaged that by the end of 2018 all Grade 4 learners in the 5 pilot schools will have had access to all the modules in the programme.
After the screening of the Reading Booklet and training of the Reading Champions in June, a total of 10 learners were randomly sampled and wrote a pre-test. At the end of the project a post-test will be administered on the same learners.
The reading programme only started at the beginning of August in all the 5 schools and the weekly reports from the Reading Champions indicate that it is running smoothly.
It is envisaged that reading interest and skills of the learners participating in the programme will improve by at least 25 % at the end of the first year. The first progress report on the programme will be tabled at the DSC meeting on 15 November 2018.