The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) reported that in 2021 South Africa ranked last out of 57 countries. Sadly, 81% of Grade 4 children in South Africa are functionally illiterate (up from 78% in 2016).
Read to Rise is a non-profit organisation committed to promoting youth literacy in schools in South Africa's under-resourced communities. As the name indicates, we firmly believe that children need to read in order to rise in their personal development and contribution to society.
Children who love reading, excel at school and go on to become constructive members of society. It all starts with reading.
We aim to address the troubling reality that young children in our communities are not reading as much as they require for their educational development. Children in the foundational phase should be reading around 40 books per year; in our under-resourced communities children are reading only 1 to 2 books per year.
The root causes of this low reading level are:
1. Most children come from homes without books and have never owned a reading book.
2. Most children do not have access to adequately-stocked libraries at their schools or in their communities.
3. Most children are not inspired and motivated to read.
READ to RISE has designed programmes to directly address these root causes of poor reading levels.
Book ownership is an important step towards children’s love of reading. Children who own books and come from homes where books are available perform much better at school. READ to RISE distributes brightly coloured, high quality books that are educational, entertaining and inspirational. Our programme introduces books into many homes for the first time giving parents the opportunity to read with their children, and giving children the chance to share the magic of reading with siblings and friends.
A critical part of our programme is that we do not just drop books off at schools, rather, we personally visit every classroom to which we contribute. This is central to our efforts to inspire learners to read and to create excitement about learning. We have designed a highly interactive session which engages learners in reading and comprehension. We use brightly coloured posters and props, we read to the learners and conduct a reading session with them. Lastly we use song to instill the excitement about reading.
We offer 8 class programmes, which are based on the Oaky Series which have been teacher-approved for this age group.
If we can’t take children to a library, we will take a library to the children.
To address the absence of libraries READ to RISE created the mini-library, which is a brightly coloured bookshelf containing 50 new, age-appropriate, covered reading books in a mix of languages that reflects the children’s home languages. The mini-library is placed in the classroom in schools and managed by the teacher, who is now able to ensure that learners are reading the required number of books per year and can monitor their literacy progress.