Ending the Cycle of Illiteracy

7 July 2016

The ability to read is invaluable. It is the underlying skill that drives schools, businesses and governments throughout the world. If the importance of literacy is universally acknowledged, why is it that so little money is directed towards improving it? It’s no secret that South Africa has room for improvement in terms of reading skills; only 35% of children can read by the age of 12. And according to the Department of Economics at the University of Stellenbosch, “South Africa’s economy would be 23-30% larger if we had a fully literate population” (Harrison, 2015). However, acquiring universal literacy is not an easy task, especially if there aren’t concrete efforts during primary school years. These years are critical for brain development, making it much easier for a child to acquire a new skill. If these critical years are missed, it is much more difficult for a person to learn to read later in life.

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