Human Rights Day 2015 is a day to celebrate schools that are becoming active Reading Schools

 This Human Rights Day, I want to add a special celebration rainbow for schools that are increasing the number of books that all their children are reading. You may know that I serve primary schools in the poverty-stricken areas of Lavender Hill, Steenberg and Retreat. We are not here to lament the odds that are stacked against such schools. We are here to celebrate these primary schools that are becoming active Reading schools.

Growing Reading Schools

This is the third year that we are passionately driving our Reading Books Flywheel with our Primary schools. Our goal is that each learner should read a minimum of 40 books per school year. That means one book per school week. As part of our support to schools, we tailored specific activities to discuss research on reading with SMTs. We studied the literacy challenges in South African schools and created peer learning networking like the Reading symposium that  Colleen Diedericks, our Foundation phase subject advisor colleague, organized.

Last year, our Reading Books Flywheel was obstinate, refusing to budge an inch. Classrooms were still book poor and very little leisure reading was recorded. We pushed harder by holding the School Heads, the Heads of department, the teachers and ourselves accountable. We want our children to become avid, fluent readers. We needed to know the reading statistics as a start.

Celebrating the growing number of readers in classes.

Now, here is the reason, dear friends, for dedicating this Human Rights Day 2015 to all the schools I serve, especially the primary schools that are transforming into Reading schools. Every week I am filled with immense pride at the strides schools are making. Last week Steenberg Primary School proudly declared that all their Foundation phase learners have read five books on average to date.  At Levana Primary school, the SMT indicated that their learners up to Grade 6, have also read a minimum of five books. One Grade 6 teacher proudly announced that her learners have read nine books each already.

I was completely bowled over. The Book Reading Flywheel is finally moving. Between these two schools, we have about 600 Foundation learners who have read collectively 3000 books at their reading level.  And we are only nearing the end of Term 1 of this new school year.

These are only two of the eleven primary schools  that I have engaged on the Reading Classroom drive. Imagine I hear the same success story at the other nine schools when we take stock of how far we have progressed?

Happy Human Rights Day 

What I do know is that my faith in the schools that I serve, is not misplaced. Nelson Mandela said that "Readers are Leaders" and our schools are translating this reality as I write.

So, to all the schools I am blessed to serve: Happy Human Rights Day. You are the beacon of hope and you are giving life to the Freedom Charter's vow of " All the doors of learning shall be opened for all".

And, to all of us...

May this Human Rights Day remind us to honour the spirit of our Freedom Charter.



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