The results of an international study of child literacy are in - and they spell bad news for South Africa. Of the 50 countries surveyed for reading ability among school kids, South Africa came stone last. More alarmingly, however, the study also found that eight out of 10 South African Grade 4s cannot read for meaning. The Department of Basic Education is putting a brave spin on the results, but education experts say that it's clear South Africa's reading crisis is deeper than previously imagined. By REBECCA DAVIS.
After evaluating the reading skills of 9- and 10-year-olds in 50 countries around the world, South Africa ranked lowest, according to the results of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Studies (PIRLS) global assessment, released on Tuesday.
Students were tested in the language with which they are most familiar, and the results show that 78% of Grade 4 students in South Africa cannot read for meaning in any language.
This means that the students in question failed to meet the lowest literacy benchmark of the study: retrieving basic information from texts to answer simple questions. To put this into global perspective, only 4% of students internationally were unable to reach this benchmark,...