Thursday, December 8, 2022

Children’s literacy skills under threat, report shows

A rise in the number of unqualified caregivers assisting children with reading at home is stunting the growth of reading skills, a study done by the University of Botswana and the United Children’s Fund (Unicef) has revealed.

At the same time, decreased involvement of parents in the reading patterns of their children is not helping the situation.

According to the report, allowing unqualified caregivers to assist children at home can have negative effects on the children’s literacy.

Children used to spend the majority of their time under parental care, but new technologies and increased socio economic changes have altered the role and place of parents in their lives.

Today many parents are compelled to spend longer times at work than before, and so are unable to have time with their children, according to the report.

Botswana is perceived as a predominately oral society, a factor likely to hinder the process that promotes children’s reading in preference to talking, the study indicates.

It says many Batswana children grow up in homes which have no study material, homes where not much writing occurs, making it difficult for children to study.

The report stresses that many parents are aware of the importance of reading but do not prioritize it as they spent most of their time at work.

Many parents do not monitor their children when they are reading, the report says.

It reveals that 21 percent say they assist them when they have chance while 39 percent say they do not read to their children at all. The caregivers’ contribution in assisting children to read is at 20 percent.

The majority of the parents ÔÇô 65 percent ÔÇô asked and got feedback from their children after reading to them while 29 percent reported that they did not.

Parents who read to their children used a combination of styles. The most commonly used styles were lap reading ÔÇô at 48 percent ÔÇô and finger pointing, also 48 percent, with only 13 percent of the parents indicating that they read aloud with the children sitting opposite.┬á

Beyond being a human right, investing in a child development from an early age makes good economic sense, contributes to human capital development and promotes social well being.

Positive care, support and stimulation during these formative early years determine much of a child future potential, says the report.

The report, however, says socio economic and cultural factors can leave the most vulnerable children without proper support, care and protection.

The research findings indicate that this situation can have a potential impact the development of a firm reading foundation for children in Botswana. This can feed negatively into their future academic achievement, and, ultimately, affect national development.

The report, titled ‘Thari Ya Bana publication 2012, Reflections on children in Botswana 2012′, says the main objective of the study was to investigate the extent and nature of parental involvement in the quality development of reading skills of preschool children.

Overall, it has found that very few parents used or were aware of the electronic media.

Therefore there was need to develop a culture of appropriate reading materials because the main resources used by parents in this study were found to be books with big illustration or pictures and picture charts.

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