Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

The State of Early Literacy Of Pre-School Learners In South Africa

Maria Wilhelmina De Witt, Ansie Lessing.

The findings of De Witt, Lessing and Lenyai (2003:15) about the state of early literacy development of pre-school learners in South Africa as well as the findings of the Department of Education (2002:viii) about the reading proficiency of Grade 3 learners are of great concern to educators. The studies indicated that the early literacy development of learners is not on par with expectations for their age group. This implies that educators can no longer assume that basic early literacy development has been established when learners enter the formal school. Therefore, educators need to know what learners should have accomplished regarding early literacy to support learners before they commence with instruction in initial reading.

According to the literature, the skills crucial for the development of literacy are underlying cognitive skills (the ability to learn deliberately), the development of symbolic representation, oral language, knowledge of literacy concepts and behaviours and attitudes. This paper reflects on a literature study dealing with the subskills required for early literacy development and an empirical investigation to determine to what extent these subskills were mastered by pre-school learners. The empirical investigation related these skills to the subskills of the School Readiness Evaluation by Trained Testers (SETT) to determine to what extent a group of pre-school learners had mastered the different subskills of early literacy development. The findings paint a bleak picture since most participants lacked adequate proficiency regarding all the subskills of early literacy development.


Maria Wilhelmina De Witt  (South Africa)
Professors in Faculty of Education
University of South Africa

Both professors in Faculty of Education.

Ansie Lessing  (South Africa)
Department of Educational Studies
University of South Africa

  • Early Literacy
  • Pre-school Learners

(Virtual Presentation, English)