READ spreads literacy around South Africa

Mathiba Molefe

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Resources like books and other learning materials are few in South Africa’s underprivileged communities. Enter the READ Educational Trust, working to improve education across South Africa by catering to this exact need. (Image: READ Educational Trust, via Facebook)

What started as a small group of volunteers in Soweto in the late 1970s has now grown into one of South Africa’s most recognised educationally focused NGOs, the READ Educational Trust.

Just five years after its creation the READ Foundation had spread to all provinces in the country apart from what was then known as the Northern Transvaal.

Now, more than three decades later, the NGO continues to put education and literacy at the front of its agenda, providing much-needed reading materials and learning aides to underprivileged children around the country.

Highlighting the importance of literacy, READ’s fundraising manager, Lizelle Langford, said: “The ability to read and write is essential to ensure success at school or later, career advancement and tertiary study.”

Over the years the trust has partnered with a number of different bodies that share their view, these include the Rally to Read initiative which aims to deliver books to some of the country’s most remote locations.

The organisation’s activities have relied heavily on the generosity of corporations and individuals from around the world and they need your help to continue opening doors for the children of the country.

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HELPING TEACHERS HELP LEARNERS

At first the organisation visited schools and delivered books hoping it would kickstart the learning process, but they soon realised that having books wouldn’t necessarily get learners to read.

“From thereon it evolved to not only giving out books, but giving training, making sure that there’s an understanding and assisting teachers in the classroom on how to teach people to read so that they can become lifelong learners,” Langford said during an interview on SABC 2.

After realising what schoolchildren really needed, READ identified educator development as a key area that needs to be addressed in order to improve education around the country.

The organisation works alongside various government departments to implement teacher training where it’s needed most. By improving the educator’s ability to teach, they in turn improve the learner’s chances of success.

“READ is not bringing a different project into the schools,” explained Langford, “we’re helping the teachers actually deliver the curriculum.

“So it’s a systemic change that we are trying to bring about and for that we need a partnership, not only with the departments but with the teachers, with the community, with everybody. Otherwise you’re not going to get sustainability.”

During the training period, trainers from READ join teachers in the classrooms to identify areas that can be improved.

Once these have been identified the trainers then take the teachers through multiple exercises to help improve their teaching methods. “It’s a very intensive process and it’ll probably be longer than three years before you see the product, but it’s a partnership right from the start,” said Langford.

GET INVOLVED

If literacy and education are causes close to your heart you can have a look at the READ Educational Trust’s get involved page for details on how to do so.

The organisation’s activities have relied heavily on the generosity of corporations and individuals from around the world and they need your help to continue opening doors for the children of the country.

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