Engaging in South African Family Literacy Education

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Fall 2009

Project Description/Abstract

In South Africa (SA) one million children live in households where no adult can read. Over 50% of families own no books for recreational reading, and the majority of children start school without the necessary preliteracy skills.

Since 2000, the Family Literacy Project (FLP; http://www.familyliteracyproject.co.za/ ) has provided training in adult literacy (mother tongue and English as a second language), early literacy, and participatory approaches to teaching and learning that emphasize the value and relevance of local knowledge to new knowledge. Family literacy can be developed in different ways, and the FLP experience has shown that combining adult and early literacy in a participatory manner can work. Nevertheless, program evaluators have found that learners’ progress is often impeded by an over-reliance on decoding and word-calling rather than fluent reading as a search for meaning.

Envisioned as scholarship of engagement in family literacy, the primary goal of this project is to support teachers in teaching to a shift in emphasis from reading word-by-word to reading for meaning. Secondly, the project will allow for the collection of multiple forms of data (including field notes, interviews, observations, and print and other visual data) for nine family literacy teachers and participant groups.

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