Literacy Charter promotes children’s right to read

Childrens Literacy Charter article

Nal’ibali, South Africa’s national reading-for enjoyment campaign, is pushing for children’s right to become literate citizens by distributing its Children’s Literacy Charter to hundreds of schools and libraries across Gauteng.

The importance of reading has once again been highlighted by , the national- reading-for enjoyment campaign, when it introduced the Children’s Literacy Charter to many schools and libraries throughout South Africa on 31 October.

On 31 October the organisation joined Gauteng’s education department and library service in ensuring 1 000 schools in the province that have libraries – full or partial libraries, or just classroom libraries – have a copy of the poster displaying the charter.

The Children’s Literacy Charter outlines key experiences children need to help them learn to read and write.

Launched in March 2014 ahead of World Book Day, the charter sets out 11 rights such as reading for pleasure, access to reading material, and encouragement to read. Over the months some 10 000 copies of the charter poster have been distributed at early education centres, schools, libraries, literacy organisations and Nal’ibali reading clubs across the country.

Freely available in all 11 official South African languages as a poster or download, the charter serves as a guide for adult caregivers, their children’s first teachers, to do what they can to put the conditions and resources in place to ensure all children have equal access to their right to become fully literate citizens.

Members of the public are encouraged to download a copy in any language from the Nal’ibali website.

READING AND WRITING IN DAILY LIFE

All 11 rights have been developed out of sound evidence from research, input from the South African public, literacy organisations and experts – as well as from the children, reading club facilitators and volunteers who attend Nal’ibali’s network of more than 300 reading clubs in six provinces across the country.

“All children deserve the opportunity to become fully literate citizens,” Righardt le Roux, Nal’ibali schools and public library coordinator, said at a handover event at Venterspost Primary School in Westonaria on Friday. “We need to ensure the conditions that allow children to use reading and writing meaningfully in their daily lives and for personal satisfaction are put in place. Thus, we have developed the charter as a guide to the essential literacy experiences children need to help adults achieve this.”

He added that partnering with the Gauteng Library and Information Services and Education Department was an important step for Nal’ibali, allowing them to reach even more librarians, educators, adults and caregivers in their mission to grow a culture of reading for enjoyment in the country.

Koekie Meyer, the director of libraries and archives in Gauteng, said: “We as library services are proud to partner with Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa and Nal’ibali – success at school depends strongly on literacy skills, and, only if a nation is literate, can it be truly an informed and democratic society.”

EXAMPLES OF READING RIGHTS

  • Inspiration: Children of all ages need people to read to them in ways which inspire them to want to read for themselves. Family members at home, teachers in their classroom and librarians at local or school libraries should read aloud to children regularly,
  • Access to material: Children need to easily be able to find a variety of reading and writing materials in their immediate environment. They need access to a large selection of story, and other books; whether these are owned, or borrowed from school and public libraries close enough to where they live. They also need to be surrounded by environmental print in languages they know and understand,
  • Encouragement: Children deserve to have all their attempts at reading and writing celebrated by the adults in their lives and to be encouraged to continue to extend their use of written and oral language. On their journey to becoming literate, children will sometimes get things wrong and sometimes get them right. This, together with encouragement, is how we all learn.

Childrens Literacy Charter