Original Research

A reading project to improve literacy in the foundation phase: A case study in the Eastern Cape

Liezel Cilliers, Carole Bloch
Reading & Writing | Vol 9, No 1 | a167 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v9i1.167 | © 2018 Liezel Cilliers, Carole Bloch | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 July 2017 | Published: 06 November 2018

About the author(s)

Liezel Cilliers, Department of Information Systems, University of Fort Hare, South Africa
Carole Bloch, Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa, University of Cape Town, South Africa


Early literacy teaching and learning in the foundation phase of rural schools in South Africa experience persistent challenges. In order to address some of these challenges, a national reading programme to improve literacy among rural learners was initiated by a non-governmental organisation. The article provides an overview of how teachers in selected Eastern Cape foundation classrooms use the reading programme to enhance literacy of the learners. The objectives of the article are to investigate how the reading project has been incorporated into the teachers’ teaching pedagogy and their perceptions as to how the reading programme has contributed to the school and community. Four purposively selected rural schools, each being part of the reading programme, served as research sites. Participants included eight teachers who used the reading supplement in their classroom. Qualitative data were gathered using semi-structured interviews with the teachers in each school. Through a process of thematic content analysis, the following themes emerged: (1) pedagogical challenges, (2) infrastructure and provisioning for literacy and (3) community engagement. The considerations for future reading programmes in rural areas include cost, availability of resources, training of teachers and practical aspects of the supplement, for example, font size and length of stories. These findings illustrate how the foundation teachers use the reading programme to enhance the literacy curriculum in schools situated in rural settings. The recommendation of the article is that the reading programme is useful and teachers should be encouraged to use the supplement reading activities in the foundation phase.


literacy; rural schools; foundation phase; Nal’iBali


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