Authors: Celeste Combrinck, Surette van Staden & Karen Roux

Keyword: literacy, South Africa


Agenda 2063: A1, A6

This study draws on the preProgress in International Reading Literacy Study (prePIRLS) 2011 data. It aims to illustrate the effect of early home literacy activities and the early introduction of reading skills and strategies in the school setting on reading literacy achievement amongst South African Grade 4 learners across the 11 official languages. South African learner performance is consistently poor across a variety of international assessment programmes. The prePIRLS 2011 study results place South African Grade 4 learners’ results substantially below the international centre point of 500 at 461 (SE = 3.7). As part of the reading achievement assessment, prePIRLS 2011 gathered background information in the form of learner, parent, teacher and school questionnaires. This study investigates two aspects as reported by parents and school principals of Grade 4 learners: firstly, parents of Grade 4 learners reported in the Learning to Read survey (or Parent Questionnaire) on the frequency with which early home literacy activities were conducted in the home before the learner commenced schooling. Secondly, principals of learners reported on the grade level (from Grade 1 to Grade 4 and beyond) at which a number of critical reading skills and strategies were introduced to learners. Fourteen such skills are identified, ranging from basic skills to skills with increased complexity. This study links the frequency of early home literacy activities, as reported by Grade 4 learners’ parents, and the introduction of the 14 reading skills, as reported by school principals, to learner achievement scores in the prePIRLS 2011 assessment.