NATIONAL NEWS - Imagine a South Africa where reading comes naturally to everyone, young and old. People read at every turn and in every situation; in taxis, on trains, in hair salons and at home.
They read for their children and their children read for them. Inside the classroom and beyond, books are part of daily living. Imagine this South Africa where people read for fun, for school and for business; and their reading enables them to live better, know more, provide for their families, run their churches or companies better and enjoy a prosperous life in general.
You can stop imagining this, because for the next few months you can join the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) in cultivating a reading culture in South Africa to enable our children to read for meaning.
You can do this in your capacity as an individual by simply reading for or with your children and family. You can also start a reading club or help to read for children at a school, church or any community organisation near you. As a company, this is not beyond you because it is possible to support one of the campaigns of the NECT as a partner or sponsor, especially the National Reading Coalition (NRC) to make age-appropriate reading material accessible, among other things.
To build a reading culture, the NECT encourages every South African to play their part to strengthen our public education system to teach reading to our children and make books fashionable again.
We are facing a crisis as serious as – if not worse than - the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study found that 78 percent of our Grade 4 learners are unable to read for meaning.
What good is reading or school education if it cannot help our children to identify and interpret explicitly stated information or make straightforward inferences about events and reasons for actions? This means that our future leaders will not be able to make sense of their world.
There are several reasons for this crisis, including the lack of access of age-appropriate reading material, the inability of teachers to teach reading and the absence of a reading culture.
We can correct this situation. For five years, the NECT has led the collaboration of key stakeholders to reach over 70 percent of our schools. We worked with the Department of Basic Education, about 20 percent of our 433 000 teachers, parents, school communities, unions, NGOs, private sector companies and people like you – everyone keen to support the pursuit of our national education objectives, the goals of the National Development Plan (NDP) and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals on education and skills development.
We invite you to join the crusade. Help the NECT in setting up reading clubs countrywide. Assist in raising technical and material resources to improve the education of nearly 13 million children of school-going age. Participate in our Education Dialogues, because these can shape national policy.
Thanks to our dialogues and consultation, the Department of Basic Education has decided to assume responsibility for the coordination of Early Childhood Development; and to introduce a three-stream curriculum model to include technical and vocational education alongside the academic.
Look out for our invitation via the media, schools and other community organisations to participate in our programmes and in the finalisation of the National Reading Plan (NRP). Find out where and how you can get involved in the drive to restore the culture of reading. Readers are leaders; let us create our own, together.
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