With the September Rotary Theme of of Basic Education and Literacy, it was highly appropriate for Brahm Fleish, an associate professor in the Division of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the School of Education, University of Witwatersrand, to address the club on the poor state of literacy in South African Schools and what is being done to change it.
While reading tests show that at the grade 4 level the average standard of literacy is way below the average of first world countries a strategy to correct this has been put forward and is gaining increasing acceptance. Described by Fleisch as a “triple cocktail” of scripted lesson plans, selected age and language appropriate reading resources and coaching for teachers. Having these 3 elements in place to teach a good level of reading skill, however, is just the beginning. If a child is not encouraged to continue and increase the amount of reading that they do beyond this foundation stage, the chances are that their reading and comprehension ability, and as a consequence their ability to achieve in their further academic and career progression, will be compromised.