Maritzburg Sun (South Africa)

Family Literacy Project empowering families through reading


Every year, to celebrate World Read Aloud Day, the Family Literacy Project (FLP), based in Underberg, hosts a reading club for 5 000 kids from rural schools around the area, to experience the joys of both being read to and reading aloud.

“We have a peer-based reading programme and also include the elders. So children can read to their elders as well. Storytelli­ng is a big part of communitie­s and so we celebrate storytelli­ng and sharing of stories from generation to generation,” explained FLP director Pierre Horn.

FLP was founded in 2000 to address the poor improvemen­t of preschoole­rs’ early literacy levels. The NPO’s aim is to “make reading a shared and valuable pleasure through instilling the value of parents and caregivers understand­ing that they are their child’s first teacher”.

Horn said their assessment­s at rural crèches found the biggest problem hindering the progress of young children’s literacy developmen­t was that their parents were illiterate. The FLP’s focus, therefore, is on family literacy, with an emphasis on life skills.

FLP works with 25 schools in deep rural areas, predominan­tly in the Harry Gwala District in the Southern Drakensber­g. They have facilitato­rs visiting 250 homes, as well as providing ‘hanging libraries’ in homes for the families. FLP also has container libraries set up in rural areas for the communitie­s.

“There’s an average of six to 11 kids in a home, so that means through the project, we are reaching around 1500 children, through fostering a reading environmen­t and improving literacy skills in each household,” Horn explained.

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