Scaffolding Reading and Writing Development in the Foundation Phase: The Reading to Learn Programme in South African Schools

posted by / Tuesday, 24 February 2015 / Published in Latest posts, RESEARCH PAPERS



This paper will analyse research into reading levels in South African schools to provide a context for an exploration of the factors that contribute to these levels, including the way in which the sequencing and pacing of the literacy curriculum in school systems entrenches unequal literacy outcomes. The role of Foundation Phase literacy teaching in South Africa as a contributory factor in these unequal outcomes will also be explored. Against this background, the scaffolding learning cycles of the Reading to Learn (RtL) programme will be posited as a theoretically and practically grounded methodology appropriate as a response to the grave inequality of literacy outcomes evident in the South African schooling. The basic six-point curriculum cycle of the RtL approach, and the rationale behind it, will be presented and will be contrasted to other approaches. Its particular application in Foundation Phase will also be explored together with teachers’ experience of using it in a school in Pietermaritzburg.


The basic theses of this paper can be summed up in the following statements:

  • Reading is primary, and unless attention is paid to the explicit teaching of reading through all levels of schooling, learners will not learn to read effectively and schooling will continue to be a vehicle for widening inequality in our society rather than the opposite.
  • The root of these problems is the systemic barriers that exist in the education system together with the ineffective teaching of reading in the schools which result in learners’ consequent inability to independently learn from reading across the curriculum.
  • While the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) correctly places literacy development across the curriculum as core to the problems besetting South African education, the need for a theoretically and practically grounded methodology, that is implementable across the curriculum and through all phases of schooling, is paramount.


Link: Full Document