Quality learning @home: WCED launches Virtual Library
Statement by Minister Debbie Schäfer, Minister of Education Western Cape
The ability to read and write is the foundation on which all further learning is based, and the ability to read for meaning and pleasure is without a doubt the most important skill that children can learn in primary school.
This is why the WCED has made improving early reading a strategic goal for the province. The Western Cape Reading Strategy was launched in March this year, and is a Whole of Society collaboration to improve our children’s reading levels. TEAM READ was also introduced during that launch – the notion that everyone has a part to play, whether as someone teaching reading, or someone learning reading.
Unfortunately, soon thereafter Covid-19 put a stop to many of the planned programmes we would have been implementing for the strategy. Teachers, parents and learners have had to contend with online teaching and distance learning.
Our learners have missed out on the joy of visiting a real library during this time, and finding things to read can be difficult during a lockdown. This is especially worrying in the early grades, when developing reading skills is crucial for later success.
The WCED team kicked into high gear when lockdown was announced, expanding our ePortal to over 8 000 resources (most of them free) to support learners during the lockdown. This included access to free reading resources to keep children reading at home.
But with so many options available, selecting something appropriate for a child’s reading level can be a bit difficult!
This is why the GET Directorate at the WCED has created an ‘online library’ for Foundation Phase learners, which separates some of the available online books into grades and levels and displays them as a library with bookshelves. Learners can then click on the book they would like to read, which they can either do online, or can download the book.
The library is available in three languages (English, Afrikaans and Xhosa), neatly collected in a single interactive pdf for access. For each grade, there are 66 books available – 22 books each for reading level 1, 2 and 3. So there are plenty of options to choose from! These will be refreshed every term (3 months).
You can access the virtual library here: https://wcedeportal.co.za/eresource/121686
Our learners have been away from class for some time now, and the disruption has had a profound effect on the education of our children. Parents often ask what is the best thing they can do to support learning at home. My answer will always be: they should read to or with their children every single day. Instilling a love of reading is a priceless gift that will unlock a whole world of wonder and learning.
I hope that the WCED virtual library will make it a little easier for them to do just that!
Spokesperson to Minister Debbie Schäfer
Western Cape Ministry of Education