If You Can Read, You Can Learn

Literacy Distribution in South Africa


In a country that is desperate for change, Bible Society is working to offer hope with God’s powerful word through South Africa’s greatest chance for the future – its children.

This project provides Bible-based literacy material for use in teaching basic literacy skills to foundation (primary) level students in disadvantaged areas. This assists them greatly with their formal education through the school system, as well as introducing them to the Bible at a very early age.

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South Africa has suffered extreme poverty, violence and a history of racism. Almost 22% of South Africans (over 12 million people) live in extreme poverty, living on less than US$2.34 a day and unable to afford basic nutritional requirements. Education is critical for the development of the country, but the system is experiencing real challenges.

Many primary school students, especially in disadvantaged areas, cannot read or perform basic addition. More than 80% of students from disadvantaged beginnings will not reach the highest level of school. Part of the problem lies in early childhood development.

In poor areas of South Africa (about 50% of the population) children are not exposed to literacy in their earliest years. Many children do not have the privilege of attending Grade R (reception class) and are already behind when they start Grade 1.


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