Availability of books as a factor in reading, teaching and learning behaviour in twenty disadvantaged primary schools in South Africa

Mary Nassimbeni, Christine Desmond


The purpose of the research project was to investigate the effects of the provision of story books in twenty disadvantaged primary schools in rural South Africa. The recipients of the donation were children in deprived areas, growing up in printpoor environments. The programme theory of the donor organisation, Biblionef, is that access to attractive ageappropriate books will have beneficial effects such as improved literacy skills, the promotion of confidence and improvement in learning. A qualitative approach was adopted to collect data before the intervention, and six months after the book donation, which included a comprehensive training programme in the use of the books. During the site visits, observation schedules were used; also focus groups of both teachers and children. We were able to chart impact in a number of areas such as improved availability and use of books in fifteen of the schools, with respect to both classroom activities and voluntary reading. In five schools there was no appreciable change. We recommend that innovation in teaching approaches associated with the use of books should be accompanied by careful training, and benign monitoring.


Books; disadvantaged schools; reading; teaching and learning behaviour; South Africa

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7553/77-2-52


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