FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
08 SEPTEMBER 2022
PANSALB COMMEMORATES INTERNATIONAL LITERACY DAY – 08 SEPTEMBER 2022
The Pan South African Language Board has urged parents to place a more concerted effort in exposing their children to children’s literature written in indigenous languages to improve their cognitive development and literacy levels in the country. This call comes as the world commemorates International Literacy Day under the theme, “Transforming literacy learning spaces”, to improve global literacy levels.
The PanSALB Chief Executive Officer, Mr Lance Schultz said that increasing literacy levels in the country cannot be separated from the development and use of indigenous languages. “Language and literacy development is very critical in early childhood development and improves the ability to read and write. It furthermore improves learning outcomes in the STEMS (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) which is required to excel in tertiary education. Therefore, language and literature are intertwined, mother tongue is the vessel through which a child first experiences and perceives the world and literature is the conduit through which the development of language can be achieved, and literacy levels increased,” he said. He added that PanSALB prides itself for making steady contribution to the development of children’s literature in partnerships with stakeholders such as PUKU Children’s literature which published children’s books in all previous marginalised languages including children’s books in N|uu which has only one fluent speaker remaining, Ouma Katrina Essua. PanSALB also verified and authenticated Ambani terminology list which is used to develop books in some previously marginalized languages.
“South Africa continues to have high levels of illiteracy, the root cause of which can be traced back to the perilous past which saw many indigenous languages relegated to the periphery. However, the high level of illiteracy is not a challenge that is unique to South Africa only, the global statistics released by UNESCO indicate that 774 million adults (15 years and older) still cannot read or write, two-thirds of which are women. Illiteracy is a global challenge, which requires all spheres of government, the private sector, and civil society to form a social compact to reduce the rate of illiteracy in the world” he concluded.