IMPROVING the foundational skills of literacy and numeracy, especially ‘reading for meaning,’ is now an apex priority for the Department of Basic Education.
Addressing the UNESCO World Literacy Day, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the department remains convinced that literacy and numeracy are the heartbeats of basic education.
“His Excellency Mr President Cyril Ramaphosa has given us as the basic education sector a mandate to ensure that every learner can read with comprehension across all the subjects by their tenth birthday. Thus, we have since coined eleven priorities to take the basic education sector to the next level,” Motshekga said.
The Minister added that in 2019, the department launched the National Reading Coalition (NRC) to support reading improvement across the country.
The NRC’s main tasks are establishing reading clubs, training teachers, and material development in reading, numeracy and literacy.
They are also aimed at mobilising resources and expertise to enhance quality teaching and learning in the reading, numeracy, and literacy space.
The Minister announced that South Africa has designed its first-of-its-kind online programme dubbed ‘The Comprehension Across the Curriculum’ that offers an opportunity for teachers to be upskilled in reading comprehension.
“The programme will be launched later this month and will train teachers to teach reading comprehension skills across the curriculum,” Motshekga said.
The department has also launched an Integrated National Reading Sector Plan which aligns with its policy lodestar, the National Development Plan (NDP) that seeks to achieve critical developmental milestones by 2030.
“The NDP envisions that by 2030, schools will provide all learners with quality education, especially in Literacy, Mathematics and Science.
“The National Reading Sector Plan is an overarching evidence-based strategy that will alter the country’s entire reading and literacy landscape,” the Minister said.
The Minister added that the main thrust of this plan is to ensure reading for meaning across the curriculum, in all grades, and in all schools throughout the country. Furthermore, to ensure that all learners are taught to read well and read for meaning.
According to the Minister, the plan would have been successfully implemented throughout the system by 2024, meaning that all teachers would have been trained on the latest reading pedagogies.
Rural Education Assistants’ Programme (REAP)
To address disparities in Basic Education, the department has developed the novel Rural Education Assistants’ Programme (REAP).
The REAP programme uses Education Assistants in the Foundation and Intermediate Phases (Grades 1-4) to improve the quality of education, particularly literacy and reading skills, in rural schools.