Stephen Taylor of the Department of Basic Education spoke on teacher support interventions during the Biennial Conference of the Economics Society of South Africa (ESSA). The conference was hosted at Rhodes University from 30 August to 1 September 2017.
Taylor’s findings showed that the Progress in International Reading Study, conducted in 2006, found that 80% of Grade 5 learners in South Africa were unable to read with comprehension. According to the Department of Basic Education, the ability to read with meaning is a basic skill that all other skills, such as maths and science, are built on. The cultivation of this skill in young learners has therefore become a “leading priority” for the Department of Basic Education.
The Department launched the Early Grade Reading Study (EGRS) in 2015. The project works in collaboration with academics at the University of Witwatersrand, the Human Science Research Council (HSRC) and Georgetown University in the United States. EGRS is the biggest large-scale education impact evaluation in South Africa.
“The Early Grade Reading study is designed to find out what ways will most improve home language literacy outcomes,” said Taylor. The project has focused on the Grade 1 class. This year the two interventions structured around teachers have continued into the Grade 3 level.