A READING NATION IS A WINNING NATION

Whether or not a child achieves academic success is largely determined by his or her ability to read by the age of 10. This fact is supported by compelling research from leading South African universities. Yet, research also indicates that fewer than 5% of parents in our country read to their children. It is for reasons such as these that social impact organisations like Penreach support initiatives during National Literacy Week – activities aimed at increasing awareness among children and parents of the importance, and the pleasure, of reading.

The action-packed week kicked off on 1 September for the Penreach Asifundze Orals hosted at the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature. The 130 scholars (grades 4 -7) that participated in the oral competition impressed the adjudicators with Poetry, Prepared Speeches, Unprepared Reading and Drama.

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An extremely successful Read-a-Thon also took place on 7 September, involving 30 schools at the Msogwaba Hall in Pienaar. Literacy was celebrated by the 330 participants in the form of storytelling, reading and choral verses. Guest speaker and local bibliophile, Bobo Lukhele, shared her passion for reading with the children, encouraging them to help build a reading nation.

Children learn skills that are important to the development of reading and writing during early speech and language development starting from birth and continuing through the preschool years. The importance of language development is recognised as part of the Penreach Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme in Mpumalanga. As part of the activities for National Book Week and Literacy Day, the Penreach ECD team paid visits to communities in Barberton and Matsulu. The Penreach ECD programme celebrated literacy with 377 children (aged 3-4 years) from 22 ECD centres in both Barberton and Matsulu. The children enjoyed activities including story time, an educational puppet show and music and movement.

More than 2.2 million South Africans cannot read or write, making the country rated among the most illiterate in the world, Penreach reached a total of 1075 learners and 118 educators during our literacy week in Mpumalanga and we aim for increasing numbers next year, to ensure that South Africa does eventually become a reading nation.

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