help2read launches Literacy Tutor reading support programme in Diepsloot
13 December, 2017
help2read is delighted to have finalised a partnership with German-based child rights development agency, terre des hommes (TDH), to expand its Literacy Tutor programme to the Diepsloot community north of Johannesburg. Through funding from TDH and others, 2018 will see 20 newly recruited and trained Literacy Tutors (LTs) provide help2read’s flagship one-on-one reading help assistance to some 250 learners. As excitedly, our LTs will also establish recreational and educational community infrastructure that engages children of all ages in after school reading clubs and holiday programmes. With the success of the Alexandra Township’s after school and holiday reading programme and the thousands of children clamouring at the door for more, we are sure Diepsloot will love the holiday fun and not even realise it comes with the power that reading brings.
Diepsloot is one of the most deprived townships north of Johannesburg. The lack of (educational and recreational) service provision for children in the area is evident in the limited number of community facilities with few primary schools, one library, three community centres, and two informal parks for recreation. This lack of critical infrastructure coupled with poverty, long working days for families and little access to support for learners’ development is perhaps the single biggest contributor to low literacy levels.
“As a child-rights focused organisation we want equal opportunities for all children, no matter their social circumstances. We are pleased to enter into cooperation with help2read whose work on improving literacy levels of primary school learners is addressing one of the major barriers for children to reach their full potential at school and to get on a pathway out of poverty. Being able to serve a community as needing of support as Diepsloot fits with this mission and given the recent results of the PIRLS study, this support cannot have come a moment later”. Leonor Quinto, terre des hommes Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa.
Just a week ago the Minister of Education, Ms Angie Motshekga released the 2016 PIRLS results, which baldly stated reflect a reality more devastating than previously imagined, exists in South Africa. For those unfamiliar with PIRLS – a Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), it is an international study of reading achievement amongst Grade 4 learners conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). Designed to measure children’s reading ability in Grade 4, it serves to provide a baseline against which future trends in education performance can be hypothesized.
PIRLS 2016 has significantly – and shockingly – changed our picture of what was an already unacceptable (and clearly significantly underestimated) literacy rate of 58%. The real meaning of the PIRLS 2016 report is that 8 out of 10 children in a classroom at Grade 4 cannot read for meaning. How then can they read to learn?
Across all PIRLS participating countries, higher reading achievement was related to, in the first instance, access to resources. Having books in the home, educated parents who were engaged in reading, indeed who liked to read and were supportive of learning is understandably the highest contributor to reading success in children. Beyond having a home environment that supports literacy learning, other features that contribute to good reading outcomes include:
- Giving children the earliest possible start in literacy learning
- Regularly attending well resourced and academically oriented, safe schools
- Having a high priority on reading in primary schools internationally
- High and regular attendance rates at schools without being tired or hungry
- A positive attitude towards reading
help2read’s programme seeks to address many of these lack in multiple ways. By identifying and training literate local young people and deploying them as literacy tutors, we are not only giving them a chance to build their own futures, we are giving them the opportunity to build the community in which they live, a chance to inculcate a deep understanding of the powerful value of literacy and to support active reading behaviour. One-on-one compassionate attention, colourful age and stage appropriate book resources, fun literacy games and things to do and make all reinforce the pleasurable aspects of reading and go a long way to developing confidence, self-esteem and so a love of reading. Importantly, engaging parents in community workshops and training programmes to build both their own literacy levels and their understanding of how they can support success in their children has been an important focus of our work over the years.
“We are delighted to be working with TDH on this expansion to Diepsloot and look forward to the coming years of learning and building a better community and nation for all!” Polite Zhoya, Deputy Director
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