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Rural Education unveils new pilot project on Reading for Meaning in Limpopo

The DBE’s Dr Phumzile Langa is once again on a mission to ensure that learners in rural schools receive the best quality education, this time focusing on Reading for Meaning Skills. Dr Langa and her team travelled to the Limpopo province from 14 – 16 May 2024, to introduce a new project on Reading. During the 3 days, the team engaged with provincial and district officials, principals, Foundation Phase teachers and representatives of School Governing Bodies. The purpose of the meetings was to introduce a pilot project titled, Reading for Meaning, from 6 districts in which participating schools were selected.

In introducing the project to these stakeholders, Dr Langa said: “I am thrilled once again as Rural Education to be in this province to introduce a pilot project on Reading for Meaning that represent the 3 major languages that are dominant in the province, Sepedi, Xitsonga and TshiVenda.  As you are all aware, reading has been one of the sector’s priority areas as our learners require a good grounding with reading skills. Our intention in this project is to enhance a culture of reading and writing as reading and writing are the two sides of a coin. It is our view that acquiring basic reading skills in the Foundation phase enables children to learn other subjects with confidence and progress successfully through school. Furthermore, promoting early reading is great value for money as it increases children’s education outcomes later on”.

The project will be implemented in 15 schools, covering six districts in partnership with the University of Limpopo with support from the University College London and University of Pretoria. It is the extension of a Reading for Joy Project that was successfully piloted in the North West Province.

“As Rural Education, we believe in context specificity of our interventions. The efficacy of the Toolkit that was developed in the North West will therefore be once again tested in a different context. Once again Community Reading Champions (CRCs) will be employed in each participating school to assist teachers to facilitate reading during the Drop-All and Read.” Dr Langa expressed her hope that at the end of the project, each of the participating schools will produce reading books in the indigenous languages, therefore contributing to the availability of reading materials that can be shared with other schools: “It is my view that this will plug the gap in the availability of locally produced, context relevant reading materials that will enhance the quest for learners to read as the books will be reflecting their own contexts”.

In reflecting on the advocacy sessions, Mrs Dlodlo, Director for Curriculum in the Foundation Phase in the province, appreciated the intervention. “We commend Dr Langa for leading the way with such key projects that will address the reading challenges in rural schools.”

During these advocacy sessions, Dr Makofane, on behalf of the University of Limpopo, outlined the implementation plan for the project, and indicated that it will consist of reading cycles, followed by reflective Central Learning Dialogue sessions to assess progress so that we can critically measure progress.

Participants in the three advocacy sessions expressed great appreciation and support for the project, and thanked Dr Langa for leading the way.

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