All children on track by Grade 4

Make sure every child is ready to read and do maths by the time they go to school

Despite significant investment in education, we know that South Africa is falling behind in critical indicators relating to reading and numeracy. This directly impacts the trajectories of young children and their ability to contribute towards building our society and economy. Investing in reading and numeracy is an opportunity to transform the lives of a generation of children. We know that early learning deficits erode the benefits of formal education and that shifting these trends requires investments in early learning interventions that focus on proficiency in reading, writing and counting.

A fully literate nation could boost the size of our GDP by 25%. 1 M. Gustafsson, S. Van der Berg, D. Shepherd and C. Burger. 2010. The costs of illiteracy in South Africa. Access here

Language development – through interaction with parents, reading and storytelling – is what drives achievement in both literacy and maths. Numerous studies show the link between preschool language attainment and the ability to learn in school1Sénéchal M, Ouellette G, Rodney D. The misunderstood giant: On the predictive role of vocabulary to reading. In: Neuman SB, Dickinson D, eds. Handbook of early literacy research. vol 2. New York, NY: Guilford Press; 2006: 173-182.. We invest in a national campaign to ignite a love for reading in children, one that supports cognitive development (increased vocabulary, curiosity and communication) as well as socio-emotional development – such as family cohesion, self-esteem and confidence – which in turn positively impacts reading levels, school performance and improves life chances. Our goal is to reach 40% of South Africa’s children directly through a national reading campaign.

What we are working on…

  • Continuing to mobilise a national campaign to increase reading practices and access to reading materials.
  • Increasing the number of children who can read for meaning and do maths by the time they get to Grade 4.

Vuyiswa Somdaka, a Nal’ibali Storysparker in rural Eastern Cape leads a reading group as part of the Nali’bali reading-for-enjoyment campaign.

Escaping the inequality trap requires a twist in our thinking.

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Flagship projects addressing this opportunity

Civil society projects addressing this opportunity

These projects are by no means a comprehensive list of the work of civil society. This list represents a small selection of organisations that will be updated from time to time

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Helpful resources related to this opportunity

Opportunities to escape the inequality trap