Addressing the Literacy Rights of Rural Children

This April, Nal’ibali’s Story Powered Schools team is hosting a series of community dialogues at over 200 rural schools in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal to give attention to the issues of children’s literacy rights. The dialogues will provide an opportunity to show parents, educators and community members what they can do to support the literacy learning of all our children, including those in South Africa’s most remote areas.

“When we talk about rights, most people are surprised to learn that children have rights too as many of these cannot be enforced by law – such as the right to be loved and cherished – and because we mainly talk about the rights of adults. But, one of key rights for children enshrined in the constitution is that of education,” explains Story Powered Schools Programme Manager, Michael Cekiso.

Also included in the constitution is support for multilingualism. However, lack of support is one of the key reasons that a huge number of children struggle to learn to read and write at school. Indeed, research shows that children who do not develop strong literacy skills in their mother tongue struggle in all school subjects.

Currently, one third of children in South Africa are functionally illiterate, and, adding to the problem is the popular belief that reading for pleasure is a ‘nice to have’, rather than an important part of literacy learning that can support children’s learning across the curriculum.

Working to address these issues and empower adults and educators where they are, 60 Story Powered Schools staff members joined by 1 200 volunteers, will be leading collective discussions on children’s literacy rights with school communities identified by the Department of Education as most in need of education interventions. These schools are located in the districts of Ugu and Uthukela in KwaZulu-Natal and Mbizana and Maluti in the Eastern Cape. 

Guiding the conversation with both adults and children, and contributing to the project’s mission to increase literacy resources in these areas, copies of the Nal’ibali campaign’s Children Literacy Rights Charter for adults and corresponding booklet for children in different language combinations will be distributed.

The charter highlights for adults the range of literacy experiences all children need to learn to read and write, and the booklet is an illustrated guide  showcasing the different ways children can experience the written word. Member of the public are encouraged to download copies for display and sharing below.

Children's Literacy Rights booklet for children

Children's Literacy Rights charter for adults