Vast numbers of SA children cannot read, but there is something we can do about it
More than half of children in SA are not learning to read in the first three years of school
It’s rare to find a topic that all SA "experts" agree on, except perhaps that crime is bad and growth is good. However, there is one area where there is now almost universal consensus in our country: more than half of children in SA are not learning to read in the first three years of school and we can probably do something about this.
In the hope that we might be able to channel this consensus into a useful plan of action, this past Saturday we hosted the first annual “literacy lekgotla” in Stellenbosch. The day started with a keynote address from arguably the world’s foremost expert on reading, Prof Catherine Snow from Harvard University in the US. She spoke about the importance of getting it right in a child’s home language: “Children can only learn to read in a language they can speak and understand. Period. End of story. They can acquire additional languages like English very effectively once they’re literate in their home language.”