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South Africa - Literacy Boost
Accelerated Early Grade Reading
Free State Province
2017 – 2019
ZAR 1,839,714
Save the Children South Africa, USAID
Primary education
Professional development of school leaders; professional learning communities; equity

Research studies reveal that South Africa faces a national reading crisis. Most children are not acquiring the most basic reading skills, thus remaining on the periphery of the learning process and never fully accessing the curriculum. Since English is the dominant language of instruction and learning, students with African home languages are particularly disadvantaged.

Schools do not receive adequate guidance from the relevant provincial Departments of Education to address this challenge, since the latter lack qualifications and other resources to do so.

To tackle poor learning outcomes in reading, Save the Children is creating a culture of reading for young learners in 24 countries worldwide with its Literacy Boost project, among which South Africa.


School leaders have strengthened capacity to support the delivery of literacy in schools, thus furthering the Literacy Boost project which aims to rapidly improve learning outcomes in reading for all learners in Grades 1 to 3.


Research shows that teachers have the biggest impact on reading skills of learners. Making sure teachers have the competencies and motivation to perform well is key. Save the Children’s Literacy Boost project in South Africa centres on improving the language and literacy content knowledge of primary grade teachers.

It is built around four pillars:

  • Strengthening the capacity of government officials to train and support these teachers.
  • Improving the teachers’ capacity to effectively deliver the curriculum.
  • Strengthening school management and leadership.
  • Providing opportunities for learners to engage with printed text and stories.

VVOB was commissioned by Save the Children South Africa to take the lead in the third pillar on school management and instructional leadership.

VVOB South Africa sets up professional learning communities (PLCs) as an effective tool for continuous professional development of teachers, school leaders and government staff (circuit managers and subject advisors at district level) to achieve this. VVOB South Africa also provides technical support and thought leadership on other activities related to objective 3 of the Literacy Boost project, and trains Save the Children South Africa staff on PLCs and mentorship.

By the end of the Literacy Boost project:

Circuit managers and subject advisors are brought together on a regular basis to discuss PLCs, literacy in schools and other related topics.

School leaders have strengthened leadership and mentorship competencies.

Save the Children South Africa staff:

  • facilitate workshops using VVOB’s CPD approach of PLCs
  • provide solid mentorship to teachers and school leaders.

To reach its goals, VVOB South Africa develops the capacity of its education partners. VVOB relies on capacity development trajectories that give partners maximal responsibility in the execution and management of their own change processes. This is done through technical assistance provided by the VVOB South Africa team, which included both local and international educational and change management experts.