Programmes » Read2Lead


The Read to Lead Campaign was officially launched on 22 July 2015. The focus of the Campaign is to improve the reading abilities of all South African children whilst the main aim of the Campaign is to ensure that all learners are able to demonstrate age appropriate levels of reading by 2019. This is also a response to national, regional and international studies that have been conducted during the past few years showing that South African children are not able to read at expected levels, and are unable to execute tasks that demonstrate key skills associated with Literacy. The Campaign will provide teachers and schools with clear directives on the Department’s expectations of achieving the expected levels of performance. Whilst the improvement in learner achievement is an important aim of the Campaign, children should be motivated to make reading a lifestyle choice. We therefore need the collective support of everyone to change attitudes and instil a passion for this critical skill.


Reading is a foundational skill on which all other learning is built and creates the opportunity for access to career opportunities and for individuals to effectively participate in a democracy. The Campaign calls on a variety of partners and stakeholders to engage in developing and maintaining a reading culture. The Department aims to increase the average learner performance in Literacy/Language to 75% by the end of the Campaign. In working towards achieving this aim, the Department is also hoping that in the long term, a culture of reading will be reflected in sustained activities in schools, homes, communities and business.


The DBE convened its very 1st Reading Roundtable earlier in 2015. At the Reading Roundtable, we engaged with various education stakeholders on ways and means to ignite the Reading Revolution.

The Reading Roundtable discussions were held under the theme “A Reading Nation is a Winning Nation”. Throughout the world, school education systems are focusing on literacy and numeracy initiatives as a means to improving the performance and learning outcomes. A learner’s ability to read, write and calculate is considered a vital toolkit in the pursuit of success and in managing life in general.

In this regard, we have moved with requisite speed to initiate many initiatives among them, the Drop all and Read Campaign. At the heart of this campaign is that all our schools have been advised through a circular to observe at least 30 minutes per week of mandatory reading as part of this programme. Beyond the reading at schools, we are encouraging families, churches and communities to reinforce the Drop All and Read Campaign at home and at various community engagements.

Our ultimate prize is to make Drop All and Read Campaign a regular established part of both children and parents’ daily routine.

At the core of our efforts is our deliberate determination that in-order to improve literacy and reduce the number of learner drop outs, we must make reading fashionable. However, we cannot do this without providing fully functioning libraries in our schools. We view libraries as a key player because they have a role in almost all of these literacy factors - from access to materials and training to promotion and cooperation. The role of libraries in our view is to offer our learners more than just prescribed books but reading material that will expand their horizon beyond the confines of their schools and villages.

In this regard we have declared Reading Library and Information Services (RLIS) an apex priority.

Hence in July 2015, in a bid to make reading fashionable, we launched the 1 000 School Libraries Campaign to target all needy schools per year from 2015 until 2019. At the launch event held at uVuyo Primary School, Dobsonville, Soweto, we announced that by the end of July 2015, the construction of 18 new libraries (two in each province) will be completed and resourced with the required reading materials. We said all new libraries will be Information Communication Technology (ICT) enabled and compliant. We are glad to announce that the target has been met.

As part of this project [1000 School Libraries Campaign] we also held a business breakfast to mobilise the private sector and non-governmental organisations to partner with us in-order to ensure that all libraries have all required reading materials to make them both viable and sustainable. The support we have received is overwhelming.

We are also hard at work steering the formation of Reading Clubs, Spelling Bee projects as well as Book Flood Campaign throughout the country.  We appeal to all who are able to donate at least one book for the benefit of our young learners. Book collections points are scattered all around the major shopping malls throughout Gauteng.

In addition in June 2015, 1000 schools offering Grades 1-3 implemented the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA). The EGRA is an international benchmarked assessment which assesses reading proficiency through letter sound recognition, word recognition and passage and comprehension. Over and above this, the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) now gives high weighting to reading and writing skills in Grades R to 12. We have also completed the implementation of the Reading Norms for Grades R-12.

Indeed, we are a country at work. South Africa is today a better place than it was 21 years. However, all our efforts will come to nought if we do not have the full support of parents, caregivers and communities.

Reading researchers, Dr Alice Sullivan and Matt Brown found that: “Reading for pleasure was more important for children's cognitive development between ages 10 and 16 than their parents' level of education. The combined effect on children's progress of reading books often, going to the library regularly and reading newspapers at 16 was four times greater than the advantage children gained from having a parent with a degree.”

In the short term, schools are encouraged to do the following:


  • Book Displays in foyers, corridors and principal’s office; 
  • Signs on display boards with quotes about reading; 
  • Notices of reading events; 
  • Photographs of children reading, staff reading and other reading role models; 
  • The principal's recommended "book of the week"; 
  • Promotion of the public library; 
  • Celebration of reading events such as National Library Week, National Book Week, Readathon Week etc.


For more ideas on how schools can promote reading click here

Reading is, without doubt, the most important linguistic skill that needs to be developed in young children. Reading serves as a building block upon which all other learning takes place. Reading can also be fun. By developing a love for reading in young children, we will be giving them one of the greatest gifts of life, namely, life-long learning.

Parents [those who are literate] must read to children form when they are small, even before they can talk. Parents talk and sing to babies, and that is how they learn to talk. Reading to them is part of this process.

If parents read to children daily, even after they have learnt to read themselves, they associate reading and books with closeness, caring and happiness. They develop a love for books that is likely to last throughout life. They also learn how a book works and how it is handled. This gives them a head start when they go to school.

For more information on what parents and caregivers can do to cultivate a love of reading in their children click here.

Literacy impacts on society in several ways namely, literate parents are more likely to send their children to school; literate people are better able to access continuing educational opportunities; and literate societies are better geared to meet pressing development.

Religious and community organisations are urged to also regularly highlight the importance of reading for personal and social development, not only the reading of the Bible and religious literature. We must extend the reading scope to include reading for pleasure.

Reading is part of nation building.

  • Reading promotes confidence as an individual in a modern society, and as a member of a national and world community.
  • Reading enables us to act creatively and critically in a world which is ever-changing and competitive.
  • Reading provides rapid, ready access to new information and knowledge that will help us in life-long learning.


For information on how to promote reading in the community click here.

Resource links

Foundation Phase Stories

The DBE, in partnership with NRC and NECT have produced 21 Foundation Phase Home Language story books in the following languages: Siswati, Isixhosa, Sepedi, Tshivenda and Siswati.

Download these stories on: this link

Centre for the Book

Through its programmes, the Centre for the Book, advocates the importance of reading, writing and publishing for development and nation building. The Centre also donates books and posters to schools, libraries, art centres and organisations involved in reading promotion.

For more information visit their website: Centre for the Book

National Library

The directory of community libraries in South Africa is available for download. We trust that South Africans will find this directory a useful tool to locate the community library nearest to their homes, as well as to get an overview of where all the public libraries in South Africa are located.

We encourage you to use this directory extensively, and to visit your nearest community library today. Click here to download the directory.

National Book Week

National Book Week is about promoting reading. It is part of a national effort to embrace the value of reading and share it with as many people as possible. The project is a joint initiative between the South African Book Development Council and the Department of Arts and Culture.

For more information visit: National Book Week


Nal’ibali (isiXhosa for “here’s the story”) is a national reading-for-enjoyment campaign to spark children’s potential through storytelling and reading. The most inspiring part of promoting a reading culture in South Africa is that many parents, caregivers and community-based organisations are already reading and telling stories to their children! Nal’ibali is about recognising and respecting the power and potential of these communities in literacy development.

Visit Nalíbali on

African Storybook

Find enjoyable stories to use with children as they learn to read. Download and print them, or read them on a variety of devices.

Visit African Storybook on

How to...

Establish a Book Club

Want to start a book club but don't know where to start? Click here for guidelines on establiching a book club


Read for pleasure

Are you into fiction or non-fiction? Click here for advice on what types of material you can read


Teaching children to read

Want to encourage your children to read more? Then make family reading time a priority. Click here for more tips and tricks

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