Literacy remains one of the biggest challenges faced by our education system. 78% of Grade 4 learners cannot read for meaning or write at the expected level. This means that these children will struggle significantly throughout their school careers to understand any of their schoolwork. The result is that out of 100 learners only 60 will write Matric, 37 will pass and only 14 will pass with a bachelor’s pass (university exemption).

Most of the children are being taught in a language that is not their mother tongue. This language transition is not happening effectively, and learners are struggling to keep up. This is further exacerbated by overcrowded classes of 55-60 learners, poor teaching environments and pressure on schools’ infrastructure. All these challenges mean it is near to impossible for them to succeed academically.

We have partnered with another organisation called Shine Literacy in order to address this challenge with a successful, tried and tested literacy programme. We opened a Shine Chapter (literacy centre) at Goede Hoop Primary School in Reiger Park in 2019.

Our Shine Chapter provides individualised support to 50 Grade 2 children to strengthen their English reading, writing and speaking skills. Children work with trained volunteers twice a week, during the school day for an hour – The Shine Literacy Hour. A simple assessment at the end of Grade 1 is used to select the children who will take part in the programme and further bi-annual assessments enable children’s progress to be carefully tracked.

Our Shine Chapter also brings benefits to the whole school and parents in the community of Reiger Park. Grade R, 1, 2 and 3 classrooms are equipped with multi-cultural, age-appropriate storybooks to promote a culture of reading throughout the school.