n Language Matters : Studies in the Languages of Southern Africa - Starting at the beginning : early childhood literacy intervention as a strategy for reducing adult illiteracy

Volume 36, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-5986



It is estimated that approximately one third or 8.7 million adults over 20 years of age in South Africa may be functionally illiterate. As a signatory to the Framework for Action for achieving Education for All by 2015, South Africa committed to the goal of achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015. The goal of reducing illiteracy is thwarted by problems in delivery of adult basic education and training (ABET) programmes as well as challenges faced by learners participating in programmes. In addition, the existing pool of adult illiterates is likely to increase over time as the children currently unable to access schooling, or receiving minimal or inadequate schooling reach adulthood. This article proposes a multi-faceted approach that includes a focus on curtailing illiteracy in children by improving the quality of early literacy instruction, and introducing intervention in families and communities to promote early literacy development.

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