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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Potential of Early Childhood for Developing and Sustaining Literacy
Author:Bloch, Carole
Periodical:Social Dynamics
Geographic terms:Subsaharan Africa
South Africa
language policy
indigenous languages
Education and Oral Traditions
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02533959908458664
Abstract:Agreement about what is meant by literacy, what becoming literate means and how to achieve literacy remains a perplexing challenge for both economically less developed and industrialized countries. The present article examines the potential of early childhood for developing and sustaining literacy across Africa. The author first describes international trends in research on early literacy, where insights have moved thinking away from seeing literacy primarily as a formal and autonomous set of skills to an understanding that very young children are competent constructors of meaning in a social world. She then turns to South Africa's language policy, which promotes multilingualism and the development of all official languages while the economic, social and educational climate is still one which promotes English at the expense of indigenous languages. She comes to the conclusion that achieving the ability to read in one's mother tongue is futile if there is little or nothing to read in that language. Mother tongue education and an environment of literacy in the mother tongue are reciprocal conditions. There is a need for persistent coherent plans of action that include early childhood development provisioning, language policy and curriculum implementation, preservice and in-service teacher education, African language literature development as well as massive translation projects, and a government that is aware of all this. Bibliogr., notes, ref.