Family Literacy Programs in South Africa

Authored by: Snoeks Desmond

Handbook of Family Literacy

Print publication date:  April  2012
Online publication date:  August  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415884570
eBook ISBN: 9780203841495
Adobe ISBN: 9781136899126


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Many families in South Africa value and promote family literacy practices when they talk to their children, tell them stories or read to them, and encourage them throughout their schooling. Other parents do not intentionally build early literacy skills in their children, leaving this responsibility to school teachers. To illustrate the low involvement of some families, a 2005 study of family literacy practices for primary school children showed that less than 40% of family members asked children about their schoolwork; only 27% of children were asked to read by members of their family (Moloi & Strauss, 2005). This study also observed that “parents seemed to have attained low levels of schooling and, therefore, might not feel competent enough to give the necessary assistance; the low levels of education could also influence the interest that parents take in their children’s schoolwork” (Moloi & Strauss, 2005, p. 85). Not only do many families in South Africa deal with low literacy levels, they also deal with poverty and illnesses such as HIV/AIDS that can strain the resources and energy of grandparents and older siblings who take on the parenting role. These conditions all contribute to many children not experiencing a strong literacy environment prior to school.

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