Nearly a quarter of a century into democracy, four presidents and several curricular revisions later, South Africa has made little headway in its reading crisis.

Calling it a crisis is no overstatement. South Africa ranked last out of 50 countries in the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLS) study which tested reading comprehension of learners in their fourth year of primary schooling. The study found that 78% of South African pupils at this level could not read for meaning.

South Africa’s reading crisis is a topic of ongoing debate and several strategies for improvement have been proposed: promoting a culture of reading; encouraging parents to read to their children; making books accessible in schools and improving initial teacher education. ….more

Addressing the problem by increasing access to books and developing a reading culture is helpful but only to a limited extent. Ultimately the buck stops with the Department of Education. Inadequate instruction is the root cause – the rest are peripherals.