Ripple Reading | South Africa

Teaching Kids How to Read

These are the schools that Ripple Reading works closely with:

Thuto Ke Lesedi School

The school is situated on the banks of the Crocodile River in the Lanseria Area just off Malibongwe Drive/Kromdraai Road.

Status: Public School
Gender: Co-Ed
School Level: Primary (No-fee paying school)

Ripple Teachers:

  • Mariaan Claude: Retired Senior Lecturer in Linquistics
  • BEd Students: Kgadi Mogoai
  • Language Enrichment: Elize Kleine Bates – Retired Teacher and Specialist in Language also senior adjudicator at Eistedfodd.
  • Volunteer: Dorothy Southey – A recently retired English Secondary School teacher who has taught at Kingsmead College for 27 years. Dorothy works with the senior phase developing critical thinking skills

Swartkop Valley Primary School

The school is situated in the Cradle Swartkop area

Status: Public School
Gender: Co-Ed
School Level: Primary (No-fee paying school)

Ripple Teachers:

  • Marinda van Niekerk –  Retired teacher know for excellence in teaching the skill of reading with 37 years of experience

Nooitgedacht Primary School

Since 1905 the school has been situated in the Nietgedacht Area, just off the N14 Krugersdorp Highway.

Status: Public School
Gender: Co-Ed
School Level: Primary

Ripple Teachers:

  • Joan de Beer – Retired Educational Phycologist (Masters) Many years in Private practice, Teacher at different schools including the Remedial Aid Centre’s before 1991, Educational Phycologist at Rehabilitation Clinic’s.
  • BEd Student: Grace Busisiwe Gazimani

Grade R school

Ripple Reading and Sakata Seed Southern Africa’s Seeds (Pty) Ltd have joined forces to assist a local creche with their Grade R class. This Grade R is the start of basic schooling for these children and is the bridging year between the creche and the Foundation Phase at Blair Atholl Primary School. Thembi Matona is committed to providing a warm and caring environment where our children are able to feel secure and happy, and are able to realise their full potential in terms of intellectual, physical, social and emotional development.


Aug 20 023

ABOUT 60% of children in SA cannot read at even a basic level at the end of Grade 4, new reports by the research on socioeconomic policy group, situated in the Department of Economics at Stellenbosch University show.

The two reports published in May 2016 state that unless pupils have been given sufficient opportunity to “learn to read” they cannot subsequently “read to learn”. Further, irrespective of the subject, the South African curriculum assumes that children have learned how to read by the end of Grade 3, an assumption that is not supported by the evidence.

The headline message emerging from the research performed in 2016 by Professor van den Berg of Stellenbosch University is the centrality of learning to read for meaning during the Foundation Phase. Without being properly equipped with this skill at the start of their school careers, students progressing to later grades are unable to derive sufficiently substantial learning benefit from schooling to successfully cross critical hurdles, notably the school leaving matriculation examination or, more ambitiously, a Bachelor’s pass or university exemption (as a prerequisite for university entrance). Poor reading also influences the ability of students to engage with Mathematics. Unfortunately the opportunity of learning to read with fluency, accuracy, prosody and comprehension is not afforded to the majority of South African children, meaning that they never get a firm hold on this first rung of the academic ladder. They are perpetually stumbling forward into new grades even as they fall further behind the curriculum. Whether children are tested in their home language or in English, the conclusions are the same; the majority of South African children cannot read for meaning by the end of Grade 4 – even in their home language – and the results in English are no better. This implies that the current DBE policy and budget focus on interventions during later school years is rather poorly targeted, given the core policy objective of improving outcomes at matric level.

A child’s prospects in life are heavily influenced by the quantity and quality of education that he or she receives. Given the hierarchical nature of skills acquisition, the ability to successfully progress through the education system to tertiary levels, where returns to education are highest, is determined much earlier in a student’s schooling career. Research shows that the critical window for acquiring basic learning skills at school, and specifically reading skills, is Grades 1–3, the so-called Foundation Phase. Little learning can take place later if a child has not yet acquired the ability to read for meaning in the language of learning and teaching by Grade 4. The development of this skill is heavily influenced by classroom practices: the so-called instructional core. It is also influenced by a child’s familiarity with the language of learning and teaching, which is typically English from Grade 4 onwards. Insufficient numbers of South African children are acquiring basic literacy skills, undermining their subsequent attempts to learn to read for meaning. 58% of the Grade 4 sample children could not read for meaning while 29% were completely illiterate. Students in poor schools can usually mechanically decode text but have little comprehension of the content of what they are reading.

Professor Servaas van den Berg found that Grade 4 outcome patterns mirror those in Grade 12 (matric) remarkably closely, reflecting the long lasting disadvantage suffered by students who have fallen behind early in their school careers. Importantly, already by Grade 2 more than half of students in Quintiles 1–4 are not on track, highlighting how few students are acquiring basic skills in Foundation Phase.

We realised that there is an enormous lack of support on both the teachers’ and the children’s side. The already overloaded teachers need help and support in addressing the literacy problems of the learners that they can’t reach, and the learners need the support and help to get them on a literacy level where they can function independently and where they can perform to their full potential. This is how the concept of Ripple Reading originated – to support both learners and teachers in improving the literacy level of underachieving learners.

Remedial intervention is provided to small groups of learners in a safe and pleasant environment. The programme is based on using all learning modalities with emphasis on visual, auditory and tactile perceptual development. The focus is always on the individual learner’s strengths while developing weakness.

Motivation and the development of self-confidence and self-belief is very important, especially for learners who have already experienced failure. The only way to learn is to read. Therefore they are exposed to a variety of reading material with ample time to handle books.

Meaningful interpretation of written words entails development of understanding spoken language. Emphasis is always on the extension of vocabulary.

Literacy Programme: Ripple Reading

R (45)Model of Literacy Training

  • Referral
  • Psychometric Assessment.
    • Identify learners who will benefit from intensive remedial help.
  • Assess reading level
    • Learners will be assessed to identify problem areas
  • Evaluation
    • On completion of programme – reading level is assessed.