78% of Grade 4 learners are unable to read according to alarming new stats released by the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) report.
The international comparison study measured literacy levels between 2011 and 2016 and scored South Africa last in reading of the 50 participating countries.
In 2016, PIRLS tested 12,810 Grade 4 students from 293 schools across South Africa, in any of the 11 official languages they were most comfortable with. Some 78 percent, or nearly eight out of 10, of Grade 4 students could not read for meaning. That is to say that they could not reach the low international PIRLS benchmark in reading. They could not locate and retrieve explicitly stated information or make straightforward inferences about events and reasons for actions.
What is clear is that the Department of Basic Education needs to declare a reading crisis and focus on pulling this vital skill up. Support for national reading initiatives such as Shine, Read SA and Nali Bali should be encouraged and supported and we should focus on the best methods to get our children into books and make South Africa a proud reading nation.
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