Four out of five Grade 4 children in SA cannot comprehend what they read, according to an international literacy study published on Tuesday. Their poor reading skills put them at a disadvantage for the rest of their schooling careers, as once children progressed past the foundation phase in which they “learn to read”, the curriculum required them to “read to learn”, said Nic Spaull, a senior researcher in the economics department at the University of Stellenbosch. It also lays the foundation for children to drop out in their school careers, as the divergence between their reading ability and the demands of the curriculum widen. SA ranked last in the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (Pirls), which gauged the reading standards of 9-and 10-year-olds in 50 countries. The study, which is done every five years, shows there has been no improvement in SA: it scored 323 points in 2016, compared to 320 points in 2011, but the difference is not statistically significant. “...

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