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Illiteracy Remains a Challenge in South Africa



International Reading Literacy Study reveals illiteracy problem

September marks National Literacy Month, a crucial time to shed light on South Africa’s ongoing battle with illiteracy. Despite strides in education, the latest Progress in International Reading Literacy Study report paints a concerning picture: over 80% of the country’s grade four learners struggle to read for meaning.

President Ramaphosa has made improving South African education a central goal of his administration, calling on the nation to ensure that 10-year-olds can read with comprehension. The challenge of illiteracy extends beyond the classroom, affecting access to information, job opportunities, economic growth, and overall national development.

One organisation committed to combating illiteracy is Maskew Miller Learning, formerly known as Pearson South Africa. They’re spotlighting Vuma, a South African reading instruction program designed to instil a love of reading and help learners read with proper understanding.

Vuma incorporates several components to enhance reading skills. These include levelled readers, big books in various languages, teacher’s guides, workbooks for extra practice, and classroom materials like posters, cards, and audio stories.

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Crucially, Vuma is available in multiple South African languages, including isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Afrikaans, and English, ensuring inclusivity and accessibility.

Allison Staals, Content Development Lead of Humanities and Languages at Maskew Miller Learning, emphasises that effective reading programs for Foundation Phase learners should be engaging and tailored to individual needs, a criterion Vuma wholeheartedly meets.

The impact of the Vuma reading instruction program has been profound. Studies have shown that 96% of teachers using Vuma agree it increases productivity. In comparison, 83% believe it enhances the quality of their work.

Staals notes, “Vuma has been created to support our children in furthering their skills and reducing illiteracy rates.” Maskew Miller Learning is committed to tackling illiteracy head-on, offering vital solutions to empower South Africa’s future generations.

Source: Illiteracy a challenge in SA


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