International Literacy Day, marked annually on 8 September, serves as an important reminder to individuals, business, civil society and government to take stock of the efficacy and extent of interventions aimed at tackling enduring levels of illiteracy worldwide.
The issue of literacy is a key component of the United Nations’ (UN’s) Sustainable Development Goals and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and remains an enduring challenge in South Africa. The fact that a staggering 29% of Grade 4 South African children are illiterate, while 78% cannot read for meaning*, lays bare the need long-term, focused interventions.
Coronation remains committed to remaining a part of the solution to literacy challenges in South Africa, and we have incorporated meaningful literacy-focused programmes in our unique Capsule CSI programme.
“Providing early-stage literacy-focused education support can have a profound long-term impact on a child’s reading and writing skills. Adequate reading and writing skills are essential for navigating the world and for successfully competing in the job market one day.
“We want to make sure that children are equipped with these fundamental literacy skills at a young age, so that they have the best chance of financial independence when they are older, says Coronation CEO Anton Pillay.
In the same way that we place our clients at the centre of our business, Coronation’s CSI Capsule programme places the child at the centre of a circle of support from cradle to career.
Rather than adopting a once-off, siloed approach, Capsule integrates our main CSI partners into a collaborative, measurable and long-term programme to serve the full ecosystem surrounding a primary school.
Much like the compounding power of interest on an investment, we want to harness the compounding power of educated, informed parents and teachers on the development and potential of children.
Forming part of the Capsule programme, Coronation’s Reading Adventure Rooms (CRAR) programme trains educators to improve literacy levels in primary schools in impoverished areas.
The first CRAR, managed by public benefit organisation Living through Learning, was established in the Western Cape in 2010, prompted by the low English literacy levels in the region.
Since the introduction of this programme, teachers have helped improve primary school literacy for more than 16 000 children thanks to the training, tools, educational material and mentorship provided. For added inspiration, classrooms are transformed with painted murals to create a fun, adventure-themed learning environment.
“The setting of the reading room is learner-centred and a space where they can reach their full potential. The setup is based on what is needed for the learning outcomes and well equipped to help learners reach their goals. When my learners come to this room it is evident that they are in a safe, warm environment where learning is made fun again,” says Whilmary Hannekoem, educator at CRAR beneficiary Vorentoe Primary School.
Quarterly CRAR educator, principal and curriculum adviser forums meanwhile provide additional skills training for the educators, as well as creating an awareness of the reading rooms.
Holiday interventions provide struggling learners with additional support and attention from CRAR facilitators, to address challenges to ensure they are able to keep up with the standards of the curriculum.
The programme supports 27 schools in 2019.