Literacy booklet to fill gap in Eastern Cape schools

Published on 1st February 2012

The English-language version of a new literacy booklet for beginner readers written by South Africa volunteer Alison Bowis has now gone to the printer and will be distributed to around 5000 primary schools in the Eastern Cape early in the new school year.


The 28-page booklet, Developing Independent Writers and Readers in Foundation Phase Classes, is being printed with the help of a $50,000 grant from the New Zealand High Commission in South Africa.

The cover of the new literacy booklet written by Alison Bowis

An IsiXhosa-language version of the booklet will be printed and distributed later this year.


Alison says the aim of the booklet is to help teachers in rural schools use children’s writing to produce reading material for foundation phase classes – the equivalent of years 1 to 3. 


“Basically the children turn their own work into books to use in their class libraries.”


Alison, who is on assignment as a reading and literacy promoter with the Institute for Training and Education for Capacity Building (ITEC) in East London, wrote the book because of the shortage of reading resources in many schools in the Eastern Cape.

Alison Bowis running a class at ITEC in East London

“I could see I wasn’t going to have much influence on reading because of the lack of resources – around 90 per cent of schools don’t even have a library. So I decided to focus on writing instead.”


The booklet has been something of a VSA affair. Alison wrote it, and Katherine Weka, whose partner Gareth Evans is a VSA volunteer in East London,  took the photographs. VSA also provided a small grant to cover the costs of designing the booklet.


Alison, who previously worked as a reading recovery teacher at Naenae School in Lower Hutt, is on assignment with her husband John Bowis. He is working as a support worker at the Eastern Cape NGO Coalition.


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