Reading is the
foundation for
learning and
thus is the
most crucial
academic skill

Up until Grade 3, children are
learning to read. After Grade 3
children read to learn, but only
one-in-three children read
proficiently by that point.

Up until Grade 3, children are learning to read. After Grade 3 children read to learn, but only one-in-three children read proficiently by that point.

While the effects of illiteracy can be seen in society, health, civics and the crime rates throughout a country, its most dramatic social impact is in welfare and education.

Reading is the foundation for learning and thus is the most crucial academic skill. Up until Grade 3, children are learning to read. After Grade 3 children read to learn, but only one-in-three children read proficiently by that point. Without a strong foundation in reading, children are left behind at the beginning of their education.

Families, schools, and
communities all have a role to play to ensure every child receives the lifelong advantages of literacy and early learning before an achievement gap is created.

Impact on Children

The children who are truly at risk in South Africa are those who cannot read. Academic, emotional and social issues thrive in children who are poor readers, and children who are behind their peers in reading struggle with low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy throughout their lives.

Low achievement in reading is also the common denominator in school discipline, attendance and dropout problems, and juvenile crime.

Reading is the skill by which students get information from books, computers, worksheets and boards to learn math, science, literature, social studies and more, and children who are not reading on grade level by the end of Grade 3 will struggle to continue learning, and often end up dropping out of school which has a knock-on effect in the rest of their lives.

Impact on Society

Grade 3 students who cannot read on grade level are on track to be our nation’s lowest income, least skilled citizens. Reading is a prerequisite for most adult employment, continued personal achievement, and for a continued democracy. In fact, some countries use their elementary students’ reading failure rates to predict future prison sizes.

However, this impact on children, schools and society can be alleviated.

Students who need interventions, such as additional assistance from teachers with special training and curriculum, are twice as expensive to educate. This catch-up growth is very expensive and historically unsuccessful because children who are behind must achieve their normal year of growth plus another year of growth to catch up by even a single level. Fostering essential reading and math skills is up to 10 times less expensive from birth to age 5, than from preschool to grade 5.

By shifting our focus to closing the
illiteracy gap, we increase the chance of
creating positive and real social impact,
faster and more sustainably.

The earlier we close this gap, the sooner we
lessen the social impact of illiteracy.
This is our mission at SHOUT.