Reading seems to be the cause of failure in class

Grade Three leaders in their reading corner sitting in their reading group.

The Early Grade Reading Study (EGRS) showed concerns after a Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) which was done in 2011.

Results from the study showed that 58% of the children are not learning to read by Grade 4 and that poor reading proficiency is one of the root causes of school dropouts in Grades 10 to 12.

Interviews were conducted at Riverlea Primary School to find out the challenges which the teachers face on a daily basis, regarding reading.

Firstly, it is important to state the outside elements which could be the possible causes of children not being able to read in Grade 7.

It has been identified that the social problems such as parents being so preoccupied with work that they don’t make the time to sit down and read with their children.

A teacher stated that if the parent does not have the ‘reading habit’ then it’s often very difficult to expect the child to a passionate reader.

The influence of technology and the media also play a huge role in children not being able to focus on their studies and reading on a daily basis.

What children eat also affects the way they focus and too often many go without nutritional meals and as a result, they struggle to focus and teachers see it has to have a short attention span.

Hamida Moosa, a Grade R teacher stresses the importance of bringing your child to school from Grade R, however, the child has to be 5 going on 6 years old because parents force school on their children and then the child may be mentally matured but not emotionally stable for school as yet.

Learners are encouraged to sound out the words, know the spelling and then make sentences with those words.

Michelle Moothoo a Grade 7 teacher explains her challenges in the education system. “At first we have a lot of children who are battling with receiving in Grade 7 as well.

“Foundation phases are used to staying in one class for the entire year, it’s only this year that the learners are required to change classes.

“In Grade 1 the learners are all mixed, they don’t class the learners based on who went to Grade R so there has been already an imbalance in the classes,” said Moothoo

Other issues which the teachers find a challenge in is with parents not being involved in their child’s life and a huge problem that they are facing is the children not speaking much English at home and this causes a problem during the learning process.

According to Moothoo, children are expected to just fall in and know what is happening, it gets worse when they get to Grade 4 because in Grade 3 they were still learning phonics and now teachers in Grade 4 expect them to know it and not all of them do.

Moothoo suggests that a bridging class between Grade 3 and Grade 4 will help.

Learners forget that an alphabet can have more than one sound, they will only know it can sound like “a” for “apple” and not know that it can sound like “a” for “autumn”, it’s about the vowels, “When two vowels are walking, the first does the talking but you can’t explain that to Grade 1’s because it’s a joke,” said Moothoo.

Pronunciation of certain words such as “bird” and “bed” are often confused by learners. They also put human qualities to inadequate objects.

There’s a huge language barrier at the school. The teachers stressed the importance of drilling phonics but with the new way of working it’s often difficult to drill the children.

The school is trying to boost the reading by; after-school remedial classes for slow readers, drop and reading sessions on Thursdays by the department (first period) where children are allowed to read anything they’d like.

In these sessions, there are also paired in reading groups, independent reading and individual reading. In August the Department of Education announced that they will be implementing a EGRS launch that will help schools improve their reading programmes across the province.

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Janice Beckett

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