ESRC-DFID Research Impact

Improving Literacy Through Indigenous Languages in South Africa

Published on 21 November 2019

To better understand early grade reading in African languages, a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from Stellenbosch University, the University of Cape Town, the University of South Africa and Funda Wande, together with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) in South Africa, are working towards a deeper understanding of higher reading gains in English and three African languages.

In South African primary schools, more than three quarters of nine to ten year-olds fail to reach the expected benchmarks in reading. Despite the high proportion of children learning to read in their mother tongue, there is little research on African language reading. This research is contributing to the development of national reading benchmarks in indigenous languages, leading to deeper understanding of how proficiency in African languages can contribute to improved literacy.


Elizabeth Tofaris
Gabrielle Wills

Publication details

published by
REAL Centre, University of Cambridge, and The Impact Initiative


About this publication

South Africa

Related content