South Africa R6bn literacy campaign on track

The government is to spend R6.1-billion over the next five years on the Kha Ri Gude (Let us Learn) mass literacy campaign, which it believes will enable an additional 4.7-million South Africans achieve literacy by 2012.

The campaign, which forms part of the Adult Basic Education and Training programme, was launched by President Thabo Mbeki during his State of the Nation address in February this year. It is currently operating as a pilot project, with full rollout scheduled for 2009.

“Progress thus far includes the enrolment of 360 000 learners, and the recruitment and training of 24 000 volunteer educators, 2 800 supervisors and 150 coordinators,” government spokesperson Themba Maseko said in Pretoria this week.

Deputy Education Minister Enver Surty added that the education department would work closely with other government departments to ensure that the campaign was effective in reducing the number of illiterate people in the country by 2012.

“There are approximately nine million functionally illiterate South Africans, and the department seeks to halve the number by 2012 and ensure that by 2020 every citizen is able to read and write,” he said.

He added that the campaign would provide learners with books on both literacy and numeracy, which have been published in all of the eleven official languages, thereby increasing its accessibility.

As such, Surty said, the campaign would further ensure that learners were given individual attention, which would contribute to effective learning.

“The campaign will ensure that there are not more than 15 learners to one teacher in the adult schools, because they need certain attention to ensure the effectiveness of the campaign,” he said.

Surty added that it would take not more than six months for a person to be functional in literacy and numeracy, citing the case of a 70-year old man taking part in the campaign, who learnt to read and write within that period of time.

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