Reading helps children to discover the world, develops imagination and creativity and prepares them for academic success.

Literacy is a fundamental part of education, and according to the 2030 Reading Panel, basic literacy among South African children has declined. Most children leave grade one without knowing the alphabet, while 82% of grade 4 children cannot read for meaning, said the Panel’s 2023 Background Report.

Education is one of hospitality group Sun International’s socio-economic development focus areas, and in September, they partnered with Read To Rise, an NPO which aims to improve youth literacy in South Africa, to do a literacy handover to Vukani Primary School in Soweto worth R37 500.  The donation included four mini-libraries for four Grade three and four classes, a book and pencil for the 240 Grade 3 and 4 learners, and 65 books for the school.

“Literacy remains a challenge in South Africa, and we are grateful to companies like Sun International who have partnered with Read to Rise to help get children in under-resourced schools, inspired to read through book ownership. Many of the children in our communities have never owned a book before – book ownership can ignite a love for reading,” said Taryn Lock, executive director of Read to Rise.

Children in grades one to four should be reading 40 to 50 books per year, but in disadvantaged communities, they read just one to two books per year.

“Sun International hopes this donation of a book for each learner to take home will create excitement around the joy of reading and motivate them to read more,” said Heidi Edson, Sun International’s SED Specialist.

In the past seven years, Sun International has sponsored 13 000 new story books to 23 primary schools around South Africa, benefitting 6 241 learners. “Read to Rise is grateful to Sun International for their continued support and for partnering with us to promote youth literacy in under-resourced communities in South Africa,” Lock said.

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