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#BizTrends2020: Advocating childhood literacy - today's readers are our future leaders

In his state of the nation speech in 2019, President Ramaphosa pledged to ensure that within the next five years, every 10-year-old child would be able to read for meaning. I applaud this vision, but realise it's not without its challenges and government cannot do this alone.
Josephine Buys, CEO of The Publisher Research Council (PRC).
Josephine Buys, CEO of The Publisher Research Council (PRC).

While there are many NGOs focussed on this critical challenge, they are on the margins of the educational sector.

To turn the tide of childhood literacy in South Africa and indeed Africa, public and private sector partnerships are critical and I firmly believe that 2020 will see more such collaborations and that our media and marketing industry can and should support this, not just to future proof our sector, but also to contribute to building solid learning foundations and platforms for our youth as a long-term investment in a thriving economy.


While there are many worthy examples; I’ve chosen a selection of those that inspire me the most.

Since 1996, Cyril Ramaphosa himself has used money earned through his speaking engagements to provide bursaries for a small number of disadvantaged students. The Cyril Ramaphosa Education Trust has, since the year 2000, assisted several hundred students not only with tuition, but with accommodation, books, mentorship and personal development to reach their dreams of becoming qualified professionals.


Partners For Possibility is an inspiring example of enabling social cohesion through co-action and co-learning partnerships between school principals and business leaders, to empower principals to become change leaders in their schools and communities.

By facilitating cross-sectoral partnerships between business, government and the social sector, Partners For Possibility aims to significantly improve educational outcomes by 2025.


Collaborate to harness collective common goal


In late 2019, social impact investors Innovation Edge hosted the second Think Future, bringing a diverse group of change makers together with a common interest; to build strong foundations for our youngest citizens as the best long-term investment a country can make for a just and thriving society, resilient economy and global competitiveness.


One of many initiatives born from this event is a collaboration between the Publisher Research Council, DGMT and Social Project to harness our collective in the common goal to improve literacy outcomes in SA by matching potential donors (not just of funding, but resources and expertise) to under-served communities with a focus on getting books, in all 11 languages, into every South African child’s home.


In my former role as CEO of the IAB SA, I was a founding member of an initiative with SANEF, MMA and APC to champion universal access to the internet as a basic human right.
With the adoption of a 7-point plan, the aim is for every South African, especially vulnerable groups and those such as the rural poor, who have access to mobile phones but who can’t necessarily afford the high cost of data, to have a daily first tranche of free access to internet.
To exercise their basic human rights such as access to government services, participating in the digital economy, looking and applying for jobs and for learners and students to access online educational resources.

#BizTrends2020: Advocating childhood literacy - today's readers are our future leaders
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E-classroom is one of many worthwhile organisations developing high quality educational resources online. Working with high-quality specialists to offer first-class resources to help both teachers and learners from grades 0-12 to reach their full potential, they are truly making a difference by improving education for all.

Digital skills on the agenda


But, with greater access to the internet, how can we ensure our youth are equipped with the skills needed to thrive, safely and securely in the online world?


Pixelkids, the South African ambassador organisation to the DQ Institute, a global think-tank developed in association with the World Economic Forum, is one organisation that champions the power of technology opening up a world of possibilities for our children, aiming to provide the skills and tools needed to empower and educate them to explore the online world safely and with confidence.


In 2019, the responsibility for Early Childhood Development (ECD) was shifted from the Department of Social Development to the Department of Basic Education (DBE), with Minister Angie Motshekga committing to aiming to enrol every South African child in a two-year compulsory ECD programme before starting Grade 1.

But the DBE cannot do this without private sector support.
It’s the age of partnership and collaboration to secure a better future for all South Africans. Who’s with me?

About josephine buys

Josephine Buys is CEO of The Publisher Research Council (PRC).
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