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Sometimes when you walk into a school you can tell something about its character – proud of its sporting triumphs with display cases of trophies, an emphasis on art with murals and mosaics, an eco-school, a religious school, one with a long tradition and history, or celebrations of ethnic diversity. So, what would it look like to walk through a school with a ‘reading culture’?

South Africa has an urgent reading crisis. Results from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2016 tests revealed that 78% of grade 4 pupils in South Africa fell below the lowest level on the PIRLS scale: meaning, in effect, that they cannot understand what they’re reading. The study also indicated that South Africa was last out of 50 countries surveyed.

So how can South Africa address this crisis? There are no quick fixes, but there certainly are slow and sure ones. Developing a culture of reading is one such solution. Creating a school with a strong reading culture means making learners aware of the joy of reading and encouraging them to read for pleasure to develop their literacy skills and improve academic achievement.

One way this can be done is through the inclusion of ‘instapoetry’ in the classroom.

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