By Dr Kriyanka Moodley, an academic at Regent Business School
The month of September accords global and national recognition to reading and literacy.
The prolific endeavours of National Book Week and UNESCO’s International Literacy Day are acknowledged. It is important that we as South Africans acknowledge the linking of these significant weeks and days to the building of our literary capacity within the country.
During this time, institutions and communities will celebrate the encouragement and value of reading and writing as it is the foundation on which all collective capacities are built. The ability to read for education is fundamental, but the possibility of reading for pleasure is an ability to stretch the imagination beyond its greater depths.
To see the continuation of the South African National Book Week over time, which many of us have experienced during our formative years, shows the persistence of the greater goal, to develop a culture of reading and writing within the country. In continuing the appreciation of the day, we show future generations the importance of developing capacity in expanding their vocabulary and their ability to articulate concepts accurately and effectively which is directly associated to reading and writing.
The South African National Book Week from 5 to 11 September 2022 coincides with UNESCO’s International Literacy Day on 8 September 2022 which places further emphasis on the global importance of literacy. Historically the observation of these days brings to bear the very real and underlying illiteracy problem within the confines of the country. National statistics point towards alarming disparities in educational levels in South Africa. It is, therefore, imperative that we continue to inspire younger generations to develop a keen interest in reading and writing, unknowingly bringing this back to their families and communities and strengthening them with basic literacy- which is regarded as a human right.
There are several issues that could be tackled from a developmental perspective. The main inadequacies of rising illiteracy in South African are the growing rate of poverty and the lack of Government commitment. Unfortunately, schools do not receive adequate guidance from the relevant provincial Departments of Education to address challenges, since the latter lack qualifications and other resources to do so. Neither are books or other materials delivered timeously or at all.
There is a dire need to develop a comprehensive literacy approach to Basic Education Development. Literacy is a critical player in the development process along with the ability to empower the impoverished people of South Africa.
The significance of these days holds true to Higher Education as these skills are evolving through one’s trajectory. There is beauty in the written word and one’s advancement can surely be attained academically if these skills are continually improved upon.
At Regent Business School, we largely focus on information literacy, where the foundation is basic literacy. Information literacy empowers students with literacy abilities in critical thinking allowing them the ability to become lifelong scholars.