This article by Elizabeth Pretorius (UNISA) is easily one of the best academic articles I’ve read this year! I would strongly recommend that anyone interested in (1) reading/literacy, (2) the education crisis in SA, or (3) how to get out of the mess we are currently in, should read this article!
Pretorius, E. 2014. Supporting transition or playing catch-up in Grade 4? Implications for standards in education and training. Perspectives in Education. 32 (1), pp 51-76.
This paper describes an intervention programme that was originally intended to support transition to English as language of learning and teaching (LoLT) in Grade 4 in a township school, using a pre- and post-test design. Because the pre-tests revealed very poor literacy levels in both Zulu home language and English, the intervention programme was modified in an attempt to fast-track the learners to literacy levels more appropriate to their grade. This paper outlines the intervention, presents the pre- and post-test results of the English literacy assessments, reflects on the effects of the intervention, and briefly considers some of the reasons for the initial poor literacy performance. Finally, a model for literacy development in high-poverty contexts is proposed to minimise the need to play catch-up in the Intermediate Phase.