Apartheid wrought havoc on South Africa’s education system, and years later, we’re still facing the unfortunate consequences. Younger generations are being disadvantaged by the persisting effects of this, and this has a ripple effect – for them, their families and also for our country. At what point do we acknowledge the problems and intensify focus and efforts to address the issues? The past cannot be undone, but the future can be different.

These sentiments come in light of the fact that in 2016, South Africa ranked 50th out of 50 countries in a study that tested the reading comprehension of learners in their fourth year of primary schooling. According to the study, cited in a Mail and Guardian article, 78% of South African fourth grade level learners could not read in a way that allowed them to make meaning.

Given the socio-economic demographics of South Africa, it cannot be expected that all parents have the luxury of time and energy to read to their children. They may not have sufficient literacy skills, and if they do, they are required to focus on other more pressing tasks to ensure that their families are provided for.

Because of this, South African schools have a significant obligation: teaching children to read, and ensuring that they have functional literacy skills. Where schools fall short in this area, a child will unfortunately be left with a significant gap in his or her education that may disadvantage them.

At Different.org, we appreciate that reading skills significantly increase opportunities and are thus crucial. We’re proud to partner with Ripple Reading, an NGO that assists learners in grades 1 to 3 at selected low-income schools in Gauteng and the Western Cape to develop reading comprehension skills. Ripple Reading’s mission is to unlock the benefits that reading brings. Learners who find reading challenging are given extra support during school hours. With Ripple Reading, reading becomes a fun, multi-sensory experience that has a broader impact on vocabulary growth, verbal IQ, self-confidence, academic success in maths and science and a host of other factors.

To donate to this wonderful project, click here.