Functional Literacy at Foundation Phase.

“In a world where knowledge truly is power, education and literacy are the basic building blocks that unlock the gates of opportunity and success.” – Nelson Mandela 

What is the state of literacy in South Africa? 


*Infographic based on stats from Help2Read and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study 2016

  • Eight out of every ten children in the country cannot read in any language.
  • Among Setswana and Sepedi home language learners the figure is over 90%.
  • The Annual National Assessments show that over 40% of children aren’t able to perform at the expected level in numeracy and literacy by the end of the foundation phase (Grade 3), and performance is poorest amongst the poorest.

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Why is literacy important?

Education – formal primary, secondary, vocational, and higher – is impossible without first acquiring basic literacy. Illiteracy breeds exclusion in every area of society, and it comes with a hefty price tag. In 2010, it was estimated that illiteracy costs South Africa R450 billion each year.

Functional Literacy, or “Reading for Meaning” is the cornerstone of all future academic performance and a skill which must be acquired by Grade 3 if we are to improve learner performance and outcomes in school. 

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Introductory video to Reading 4 Meaning: The Building Blocks (VWSA Conference 2017)

Models of Intervention

vwsainterventionsA comprehensive spectrum of interventions are required for a balanced literacy programme. Interventions should address resources needed by the learners to be able to read with meaning, while also equipping teachers, parents and caregivers with skills necessary to support their children in the classroom and at home.

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