Rallying to improve literacy in rural communities

Rally to Read is making inroads to improved literacy - and you can help make a difference

13 June 2019 - 13:35 By rally to read
Rally to Read is hosting rallies in KwaZulu-Natal in August and September.
Rally to Read is hosting rallies in KwaZulu-Natal in August and September.
Image: Rally to Read

President Cyril Ramaphosa recently declared that “early-grade reading is possibly the single most important factor in overcoming poverty, unemployment and inequality”.

According to the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study report, 78% of grade 4 pupils cannot read for meaning in any language. This survey also indicated that reading scores had not improved since 2011. The ability to read in grade 4 is regarded as crucial: from grades 1 to 3 you learn to read‚ and from grades 4 to 12 you read to learn.

Prof Nkidi Phatudi, chair for early childhood development at Unisa, said that many teachers employed at township and rural schools trying to introduce English were at a disadvantage owing to their own lack of proficiency in the language. In that way‚ literacy cracks grow into canyons.

“The value of literacy extends beyond the classroom‚ and should ideally equip children with the knowledge‚ skills and confidence to participate actively in society‚” researcher Ursula Hoadley said. “Good reading skills enable children to learn much more than their teachers might offer, and it enables them to learn independently."

At a lecture in Cape Town this year, education expert Prof Mary Metcalfe noted that only 29% of the poorest primary schools in the country had access to in-school libraries. She added that the province hardest hit by the literacy crisis was KwaZulu-Natal, where only 45.4% of pupils had their own reading textbooks.

Rally to Read: Improving literacy outcomes

Rally to Read is a nonprofit organisation with one goal: to improve literacy at grassroots level in remote rural communities across South Africa. For 21 years, with The READ Educational Trust, this organisation has worked tirelessly alongside corporate and private sponsors to deliver books, teaching aids, educational toys and other much-needed resources to these schools.

Remarkable headway has been made.

To date, more than R91m has been raised for rural education. More than 1,000 schools have been reached through the programme, and the fruits of Rally to Read’s efforts are evident during repeated annual visits to each Rally to Read-selected school. A three-year period is assigned to each school and, in addition to resources donated, teachers are mentored to promote literacy effectively.

Coming to KZN: Rally to Read 2019

Rally to Read is looking forward to hosting rallies in KwaZulu-Natal this year on the weekends of August 31-September 1 and September 14-15. The organisation is inviting sponsors to pay it forward by sponsoring a rally. Not only are all sponsored amounts tax deductible but sponsorship fees include joining the organisers on a journey to rural KZN to meet the pupils and teachers whose lives are enriched through Rally to Read.

Make an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of grateful pupils and educators – invest in Rally to Read 2019.

  • Article provided by Rally to Read