Cape Flats News (Cape Town)

10 October 2011

South Africa: Parents, Guardians Must Read to Children

"They are so lost with their reading. We find that gr.2-3 learners cannot read."

Kathy le Roux of New Dawn in Kewtown says this could be because of school classes being overcrowded and teachers having their hands full. She says their volunteers are mostly mothers of the community who teach life skills and teach reading to the children. At the time Cape Flats News visited, the children were busy writing out numbers.

In 2010 the Western Cape Education Department did tested gr.3-learners and they achieved 54.9% which is in line with the target of a 55% pass rate for literacy.

The gr.6s achieved 52, 3%, compared to our target of 45%.

Even reading with your child for 10 minutes everyday can make a difference, says Mandy Trevor, the Regional Manager (Western Cape) of the organization help2read. "You also don't need books at home - one can go to the library or use every item from around the house to build vocabulary such as reading of cereal boxes!"

Help2read is an NGO that empowers children with vital literacy skills. Volunteer reading helpers are trained and placed in local primary schools where they work with children individually.

"93% of our volunteers are women, many of whom are parents or guardians of children. Parents often say they learn a lot in our training and it benefits their relationship with their children," said Trevor.

"I don't think parents read enough to their children. In combatting the poor child literacy rates in SA it is something the schools, community organisations and parents need to come together to solve."

Recently the principal at Newfields Primary in Athlone said in a letter of support to help2read that although errors are still being made, learners now have the confidence to do reading in the class.

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