The Foundations for Learning Campaign: helping hand or hurdle?
The education system in South Africa has failed to produce competent learners. The effect thereof is intensely felt by higher education institutions. Many of the country’s first-year students cannot read, write and comprehend satisfactorily. Public outcry has forced the Department of Basic Education to go back to the drawing-board. One initiative taken by the Department was to launch the Foundations for Learning Campaign, a four-year national literacy and numeracy programme, in 2008. The Campaign entails amongst other things providing teachers with lesson plans and the resources needed for effective teaching and assessment. In view of the immense importance of this initiative for South African education, the aim of this research was to investigate teacher perceptions about the Campaign, and the provisional impact of the Campaign on the literacy levels of the Grade 3s of three urban schools, located in different socio-economic circumstances. A combined quantitative and qualitative approach was used, the former through an analysis of the results of the 2008 and 2009 literacy assessments, and the latter by the incorporation of
observation and interviews at participant sites. The findings suggest that the Campaign is a necessary and welcome initiative but that attention should be paid to simplifying particular aspects of the Campaign. The impact of the Campaign, although slight, did indicate an improvement in literacy levels.
Keywords: change management theory; Foundations for Learning Campaign, literacy, resources for effective teaching, teacher perceptions