South Africa’s literacy rates have significantly improved, compared to a couple of decades ago, but the heartbreaking reality is that many communities still struggle to source books for their children, as often no local library is available. Many South African children are growing up unable to read, or not getting sufficient exposure to reading.
The impact of illiteracy on the economy is tremendous. It is estimated that the cost of illiteracy worldwide is a massive $1.2 trillion. South Africa feels the impact of illiteracy even more harshly, as the skills shortage and high unemployment rates often associated with an emerging economy are likely to continue, unless the cycle is broken by an increased investment in the literacy rate amongst South African children.
Reading Forms the Foundation of a Child’s Education
It is said that the first five years of a child’s life are a fundamentally important time for brain development, which will influence future behaviours based on what the brain is taught during this time.
In order to promote and maintain early life stage brain development, through our Book Sharing project, we focus on providing early learning opportunities for communities in need, like Setswetla, a temporary informal settlement in Alexandra, where approximately 2000 children and their families benefit from the services of the Hlayisanani ECD Centre.
We also runs Sizolomphakathi ECD Centre in Tjakastad, Mpumalanga. Both these centres focus on young children and work with groups of caregivers, who allow sufficient access to books, which are shared amongst the young children.
Our Book Sharing project shows that there are many fun and interactive ways for caregivers to engage and stimulate children with books from a very young age, because learning starts early. Watch this video to see for yourself:
Help is at Hand
Thanks to the generous help of our donors, we are able to invest in community projects like Hlayisanani and Sizolomphakathi, which increase access to reading materials. Children also benefit from the presence of dedicated caregivers, with whom these children build enriched learning relationships, to stand them in good stead during their developmental years and into the future.
We could not have done any of this alone. Set up a monthly donation today and help us continue to create a culture of learning and reading for vulnerable children in South Africa.