Reading kit hopes to inspire pupils to read more

PHIRI CAWE

An innovative reading kit for Grade Rs will be distributed to 150 public schools in the province’s eight education districts as part of the provincial department’s Read to Lead Campaign.

The kit has been produced by the Grow Learning Company, which focuses on Early Childhood Development (ECD).

The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, and Grow Learning founder Annerie Dresslhaus, handed a kit to pupils at Masiphumelele Primary School, in Makhaza on Friday April 29.

Speakers hailed the initiative, saying it would encourage reading at home and seek parents’ involvement in their children’s education.

Ms Motshekga said the initiative would help the children to read and write. She said the kit was officially launched in 2015, and would run until 2019, as part of a nationwide government initiative to instil a reading culture among pupils.

“Early childhood developments is one of our key focus areas. Quality and effective education starts with ECDs. We, therefore, cannot fail our children. We want to make sure that early childhood education becomes a reality,” she said.

Ms Motshekga acknowledged challenges in the education sector. She added that reading material at schools has been a massive challenge. However, she said her department would do everything possible to provide material. “The quality of our programmes remain a major challenge. We need to support this with clear quality programmes. This is a wonderful way to learn,” she said.

Ms Motshekga lashed out at the nation for its apparent lack of reading. She said 85 percent of the country’s population were non-readers, and only five percent of adults read to their children. “Compared to countries like Russia, the reading culture is completely zilch in the country. We have to do things differently,” she said. She urged parents to dedicate 30 minutes of their time to read for their children.Ms Dresslhaus said learning to read can be a daunting task for a child. “What we have done to help teachers, parents and children with the challenge of learning to read, is to make it playful. Our experience shows that when children are happily engaged in a playful manner, they get really immersed in the experience and learning becomes fun. And for us that is happiness,” she said. Ms Dresslhaus said her company was thrilled to partner with the education department. She described the Read to Lead campaign as one that seeked to liberate a new world of potential among children. “Reading, of course, is the key that enables pupils to scale new heights,” she said. Principal Brenda Simani-Phike assured Ms Motshekga and the company that her school was there to make a change. She said her school was not a school but a home. “We are here as being the agents of change. We are here to turn this area and school to a centre of learning. If we do not focus down there (Grade R), we have missed the point. That is where we should be focussing,” she said. She challenged teachers at high school to never undermine the importance of the work done at primary schools.