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As part of its goal to promote literacy among learners under the age of 10 years, Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) has invested R4 million towards training the educators responsible for teaching Eastern Cape learners to read.  

VWSA has partnered with and invested in Funda Wande, a Grahamstown-based non-profit organisation. Funda Wande’s primary aim is improve the reading ability of learners from Grades 1 to 3 – as the majority of South Africa’s learners are not taught to read with understanding in this phase.

In particular, the Reading4Meaning programme offered by Funda Wande, in association with the Department of Basic Education and South African universities, is designed to equip Foundation Phase educators to teach and encourage reading – both in learners’ home language and in English as an additional language. The course consists of 11 modules, with Funda Wande providing ongoing coaching for educators.

VWSA’s most recent contribution of R2 million (part of the R4 million investment) to the programme will be used to fund a pilot project, which includes the development of a video-based course that would be offered online in both isiXhosa and English First Additional Language. Once developed, this course will be piloted in the Eastern Cape. The funds will also be used towards developing a two-year part time Advanced Certificate in Foundation Phase Literacy Teaching with Rhodes University.

Funda Wande project director Nic Spaull said the support from VWSA has already proved vital in the organisation’s work. “The VWSA investment in the early stages of the Funda Wande programme helped us to raise the status of early grade reading and reading for meaning in South Africa,” said Spaull. “Perhaps the best evidence of the impact of the work we are doing is that President Ramaphosa pledged in his State of the Nation address that it was one of his top five priorities to ensure that “every 10 year old will be able to read for meaning” in the next 10 years.”

“As further evidence of the impact of the investment in the Eastern Cape specifically, through Funda Wande’s partnership with the Department of Basic Education in the province, the Department decided to print anthologies of graded readers in isiXhosa and distribute them to every Grade 1, 2 and 3 learner in the province in 2019. We were also asked by the Department to train all subject advisers and over 400 Heads of Department on how to use the anthologies.”

The work done by Funda Wande is in line with VWSA’s priorities to eradicate illiteracy and empower youth in the long term. The company also established various literacy centres at schools in Uitenhage to support this goal.

“The literacy skills we give to our children will equip and empower them for the successes they achieve in the future,” said Thomas Schaefer, Volkswagen Group South Africa Chairman and Managing Director. “We intend to do our part to ensure they have the best chance at a bright future – and improving literacy in the Eastern Cape and South Africa is the first step.”