TVET college tests student reading levels

False Bay TVET College recently piloted a reading intervention programme to boost independent reading among first year students.

"Illiteracy is one of the major challenges that African countries grapple with and South Africa is no exception "says Carol Dwyer, E-learning Manager and Russell Chisango Open Learning Centre Co-ordinator at False Bay.

"In 2016 South Africa was ranked last in the International Reading Literacy Study (Pirls) survey. The study found that 78% of South African pupils at Grade 4 could not read for meaning."

Reading is recognized as the foundation of all learning and research shows that most learning difficulties stem from poor reading skills. 

"Reading proficiency is one of the most fundamental predictors of academic achievement" ,explains Dwyer and Chisango.

Strong literacy skills lead to academic and career opportunities, yet many students don't have the necessary foundations for success.

In an effort to fight this epidemic False Bay TVET College launched an online reading programme known as Accelerated Reader(AR).

The programme developed by the UK based Renaissance Learning Company was a "whole-group reading management and monitoring programme that aims to stimulate the habit of independent reading among primary and secondary age pupils."

The programme was piloted at False Bay on a trial basis over an 8 month period with the aim of exploring the link between reading skills and academic performance.

"The evidence gathered in this study recognises that literacy is a key issue regardless of the subject taught."

The study called for reading interventions to be implemented in TVET institutions in order to assist first-year students.

"The campus administration needs to envisage ways of integrating Literacy Development programmes for incoming learners into the curricula as the data presented has showed that 18% of the participants achieved a lower reading age average which is between 5-8 years."

The report also stated that the onus fore developing literacy skills rests with educational leaders.

"Academic institutions need to equip learners with the skills needed to immerse themselves in factual information, to internalise this new information into their current body of knowledge and argue and engage with new facts. This encourages flexibility and adaptability in critical thinking skills."

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