By Chamu Wilson –
The Free State Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Education, Tate Makgoe, recently launched a programme meant to ensure that a reading culture is inculcated in learners at primary schools in the province.
The programme, named the Reading and Library Revitalisation Programme, was launched at Tawana Primary School in Thaba Nchu on Monday (20 Aug).
Speaking at the launch, Makgoe explained that a total of R22 million had been set aside for the pilot programme that will see 43 primary schools in townships and hostels in Mangaung benefiting.
“After the release of the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literature Study (PIRLS) which showed that the majority of South African learners at grade four cannot read fluently even in their mother tongue, we then set about to find a way of mitigating this. We did not have any budget for this programme so we had to take a stance to trim budgets in other programmes so that we would be able to raise the R22 million,” said Makgoe.
According to the MEC, the programme was targeted at primary as this is a critical level in the academic development of learners.
“We took a conscious decision to start this programme at primary school level because if we get it right at the elementary stage, the rest of the academic development will be smooth. If we want to resolve these issues, we must make sure that we re-allocate resources back to primary schools.”
Makgoe emphasised the importance of teaching learners to understand and not just to complete the syllabus. He urged teachers to take their time with learners to ensure that they fully grasp what they are being taught.
“This programme is not about the MEC or the department. It is about the learners; the teachers and the books. There must be a synergy that will result in an improvement in the level of literacy of the learners. Focus should be on three abilities; that is the ability to read, the ability to write and the ability to do numbers. Everything else will be built upon these three pillars,” the MEC said.
He went on to advise teachers and all officials in the Department of Education that they are not there to advance their own popularity in the eyes of the public.
“Our mission is not to look for popularity. We are here to change South Africa to be a better place. When we are no longer in these positions, will we say we did a good job or will we hide our heads in shame? That should the driving force in the discharge of our duties,” implored Makgoe.
The MEC took time to appreciate the role played by teachers whom he described as underrated yet they play a pivotal role in shaping society’s future. He acknowledged the many roles that teachers play while they are taking care of learners.
The programme has also seen a total of 170 library interns being discharged to various schools in the province to assist in improving the reading skills of the children.
Makgoe then handed out story books to circuit managers. The books will be added to their respective school libraries.