There is an acknowledged literacy crisis in our schools: research has shown that most children cannot read fluently and with comprehension in any language by the end of the Foundation Phase. This is the ‘burning platform’ described by Gail Campbell, CEO of the Zenex Foundation, in her opening remarks at the Zenex 2018 Literacy Symposium. The ability to read for meaning and write with meaning is the platform on which all other formal learning skills are built, and which enables progression throughout schooling and further study.
The symposium ‘Leveraging our collective wisdom to address the literacy challenge’ (held in Johannesburg on 24 October 2018) was attended by a range of participants representing the research and professional evaluation communities, implementers and decision makers. A key aim was to bring together the fields of literacy research and programmatic interventions, in order to consider how the sector can give a more coordinated response to the crisis. The symposium programme was made up of three focus areas: the presentation of the Zenex Literacy (ZenLit) Pilot Project evaluation findings, three parallel commissions (teacher training, literacy coaching and
literacy research), and reflections on coordinating literacy research and interventions going forward.