It was around a kitchen table in London that Susan Belgrave and 8 other friends decided that the rate of illiteracy amongst English children was not acceptable, so they decided to do something about it. They started to volunteer in schools and work one on one with children who were struggling with reading.
Have a bookshelf lined with books at home? Count yourself privileged. In South Africa, access to books is a major challenge hindering literacy; a challenge that particularly impacts children from impoverished families, who are less likely to own or have access to reading material at home.
My journey began as I stepped into London, a buzzing city with vibrant people and energized in every aspect. Shortly after our arrival, we met the team at our sister organization Beanstalk, a diverse group of people who are passionate about literacy.
On the 2nd of October, three help2read staff members embarked on a Learning Share Journey to London to visit our literacy sister charity, Beanstalk. It was a very educative journey of many miles around the UK, which was akin to climbing a giant beanstalk!
What do Brand South Africa’s Pumela Salela, brilliant wit and satirist Rory Bremner, De Beers’ CEO Bruce Cleaver and Bonham’s Giles Peppiatt have in common? They all participated in last night’s second help2read “ Shine A Light on Literacy” Gala Dinner.
In South Africa, over 66% of the population is under the age of 35. Sadly, young people aged 18 to 35 also make up the bulk of South Africa’s unemployed population. There are a number of reasons for this, but there’s one that we believe is particularly crippling – the poverty of opportunity.
September saw our teams increase our efforts in highlighting the growing concerns around the number of children who are able to read and write at even a basic level. National literacy month challenged many to focus on ways of improving literacy levels and highlighting the importance of reading and having access to books.
On Literacy Day one year ago, we came to terms with the harsh and sobering reality of the literacy crisis in South Africa. The statistics are shocking. Even more so the thought of their implications in years to come. As a nation, we cannot afford to operate in silos. We must collaborate, share findings, and critically assess whether interventions are working.
In this month’s edition of Who Is Who In Literacy we feature FunDza, a local NGO that is tackling access to books and stories head on by providing disadvantaged youth with relevant and engaging reading material.
South African literacy organisation, help2read, is helping youth creatively engage with the world of work whilst also providing critical literacy infrastructure and services to their communities in the Western Cape and Gauteng.
Registered Non-Profit 063-979 PBO 930027054 UK Charity Reg No. 1109567