The improvement of the quality of intermediate phase reading through intervention strategies
Reading is fundamental to functioning effectively in today's society. Learners with poor reading abilities have low opinions of themselves and their abilities (Patil, Saraswathi and Padakannaya, 2009:93). Behavioural problems may arise as these learners feel isolated and frustrated. The development of learners’ literacy in South Africa as a developing country is accentuated by several challenges. Many learners in South Africa have difficulty understanding the language in which they are taught as they are not taught in their mother tongue. However, the language of instruction is not solely responsible for the poor performance in international reading tests and schooling in general. Learners are faced with socio-economic issues, very little or hardly any parental supervision and educators are faced with the challenge of finding reading methods and strategies suitable to improving reading. Learners in the foundation phase are explicitly taught reading skills. In the intermediate phase, learners are expected to apply the skills acquired in the foundation phase to access the curriculum. In reality, this is difficult to achieve. The focus of this study is on preparing current intermediate phase educators in the development of learner literacy by contributing possible strategies that will enable the improvement of the quality of intermediate phase reading. The study was conducted at primary schools to the north of Durban. A questionnaire was distributed to intermediate phase educators, including members of school management. Of the selected sample of 450, 366 of the respondents returned the questionnaire with no inaccuracies, declaring an 85% response rate. The Predictive Analytic Software (PASW) Version 18.0 was used to analyse the data collected from the responses. The results are presented in the form of graphs, cross tabulations and other figures. An analysis of the data revealed significant statistics from the different aspects explored (biographical data; factors impacting on reading literacy; language and reading instruction; strategies for teaching reading; library and computer resources; systems for improving reading quality; and homework). The study contributes to several academic disciplines and the development of society in general, as it proposes strategies and recommendations that may be implemented to improve the quality of intermediate phase reading, and thereby contribute to schooling experience in general. The study recommends that all stakeholders (home; school management; educators; and the department of education) be held accountable for the improvement of literacy in our country. Educators need to be trained in the teaching of reading and parents need to play a more active role in the learners’ lives. It is imperative that remedial educators and special personnel be employed by the department of education to assist learners with reading difficulties. The study further recommends that the time allocated for intermediate phase literacy education be reviewed. The reinstating of collapsed libraries is vital to improving the quality of reading. In addition, the administrative workload of educators requires re-examination in light of the poor results achieved in the national (ANA) and international (PIRLS) literacy programmes.