Newspaper clipping – The Pretoria News – 11 August 2008

Indigenous books to nurture reading skills By Mogomotsi Magome

About 2,3-million school books written in indigenous languages will be printed and distributed to schools around the country in 2009, Education Minister Naledi Pandor has said. The books have been authored by 140 teachers who were honoured by Pandor at the University of Pretoria. As part of the Ithuba Writing Project in conjunction with the US Agency International Development, the teachers were trained to author supplemental reading materials in ways that are relevant and engaging.

According to Pandor, the project was necessitated by the fact that many children still cannot read at the appropriate age.
“It is a concern that children still come out of schools without appropriate reading skills. This challenge is also created by the fact that there is a lack of resources in many schools and this project aims to address that. The department of education is committed to improve reading and writing skills and ensure that South African learners can read fluently by the third grade and also write in their indigenous languages. We cannot celebrate our mother tongues if there are not sufficient materials written in those languages because the languages and literature were at the heart of a collective identity,” Pandor said.

She said the project enabled the country to honour the United Nations declaration about indigenous people that said their languages need to be developed.
“This project has not only paved the way to improve learners’ reading abilities but was also aimed at improving the technology skills of classroom educators,” the minister said.