I attended the ‘All Children Reading Workshop‘ in Kigali, Rwanda from March 12- 15. This was an amazing and enlightening experience for me. The time spent with colleagues in education from other countries was a tremendous learning experience on so many levels.
First, the various presentations such as those of Marcia Davidson (Room to Read), Elliot Friedlander (Save the Children), Dr. Agatha Van Ginkel (Language Transition) and others helped to enlighten participants about various strategies that are currently being used in several African and Asian countries to promote reading.
Armed with the new knowledge and ideas, we as country team members deliberated about what could work best within the South African context to promote reading. Bearing the unique contextual challenges and potentials in mind, we were required to develop a ‘Plan of Action’ for reading. The design of an action plan to advance reading in the country was however constrained by the fact the South Africa has already adopted a ‘Strategic Action Plan 2012-2013′ which is currently being implemented. We therefore proposed that the reading component of this plan be raised and made more explicit for teachers. Other measures to raise reading levels would be further explored and considered by the national education department.
Second, the sharing of country plans gave some insight into the reading models preferred by different country teams, the main challenges they needed to consider for implementing reading programmes, and what they would do to support reading programmes in the country.
Third, my inclusion as an NGO representative (I work for the Western Cape Primary Science Programme- PSP), in the country team gave recognition to the work of organizations who work in partnership with governmental institutions, raising and validating our contributions in the field of education.
Fourth, engaging with educational officials from different countries allowed for comparison of challenges, processes and procedures and further enhanced my understanding of what other countries are doing in education.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend a conference of this nature as a member of the South African delegation. Representing the NGO sector it was particularly interesting for me to engage in discussion about promoting reading and literacy at the country level.