• Eastern Cape Rising Sun

Intervention for poor reading ability for EC kids

Updated: Aug 16, 2019

78% of South African learners in Grade 4 cannot read for meaning according to Centre for Evaluation and Assessment (CEA) study called the Progress in International Reading Study. For isiXhosa home language learners, the figure is high at 88%.


Thirty schools in the Eastern Cape were recently part of a pilot reading for meaning Intervention by NPO Funda Wande to address this issue of great concern. The schools are situated in the Nelson Mandela Bay, Makana and Buffalo City municipalities. The literacy programme aims to improve the reading and writing of Grade One to Grade 3 learners, in isiXhosa.


These learners cannot read for meaning in their mother tongue, cannot grasp the fundamentals of their language, and by extension struggle to learn an additional language.

Launched in February 2019, as part of the pilot study, random control schools were chosen to compare with the 30 selected schools. Both the intervention and the control schools are no-fees schools with overcrowding that sees 40-50 students per class, and lack of resources which impacts on effective teaching methods.


A literacy coaching model is used to support teachers, which entails demonstration, coaching and instruction in how to use the methods recommended in the curriculum.

Six coaches are allocated five schools each, which they visit once a week to observe teachers, provide feedback and support, and model how to teach reading and writing in isiXhosa.


The resources used are multi-media platforms including high-quality videos, a materials component which includes big books, posters, phonic flashcards and lesson plans with a day-by-day breakdown of activities.


The Eastern Cape Department of Education and Rhodes University have a partnership with Funda Wande aimed to develop courses in literacy teaching for Foundation Phase educators.


The result is a 2-year part-time course that teachers HODs, subject-advisers or potential coaches to equip them with the content knowledge they need to teach literacy. To develop the Advanced Certificate in Foundation Phase Literacy course, Funda Wande convened more than 15 literacy experts from across six universities and seven different NGOs to help develop the curriculum in 2017 and 2018.


To date, the course has been approved by the Rhodes Faculty of Education, the Rhodes Institutional Planning Commission, the Rhodes Senate, and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).



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