If you have your grade 12 and have possibly earned further tertiary qualifications, your literacy; both maths and reading skills; is probably something you take for granted. Basic literacy skills are introduced in grade 0 and grade 1 to form the foundation for all further education as well as providing certain tools to face life’s challenges.
It’s likely that you don’t even think about reading: you just do it, as you are right now. You may or may not be involved in a financial career, but you still use maths all the time to work out everything from your monthly budget to how much petrol your car is using. Literacy has given you all kinds of opportunities, from being able to comprehend your schoolwork and answer questions correctly, to putting together your CV and landing your first job, to being able to complete your day-to-day work and communicate effectively with your colleagues.
A life without literacy?
Now consider what your life would be like without your literacy skills. Reading and basic arithmetic skills are so essential, so much a part of life, that it’s easy to forget how important they are until we imagine life without them.
If you’re reading this article, you’re one of a small percentage of South Africans who were given a solid foundation in literacy skills. Thus, you could take advantage of the many opportunities life has presented you with. Sadly, however, there are vast numbers of South African children who are not able to develop their reading and maths skills. There are also many adults with incredibly low levels of literacy. This will continue to affect communities unless something is done about it.
How does literacy affect communities?
Children who have a solid foundation in reading and mathematical literacy go on to perform better in school. They are more likely to be accepted into tertiary institutions and are more likely to be given opportunities such as scholarships. Learning to read; even more important, comprehend and interpret; is a vital life skill that continues to be valuable well into adult life. When education improves, there is higher earning potential. That, in turn, benefits the economy. When education improves, there is increased self-worth, which has a positive impact on social dynamics. With education also comes a better understanding of healthcare issues such as HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy and TB. Educated communities are more likely to take care of their environments and natural resources. In short, education improves communities. And it all begins with literacy!
Bringing literacy into community service
The concept of community service is relatively simple: taking action that benefits the community in some way, either by donating time or goods. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with donating, often a donation alone does not benefit a community in the long-term. Many companies sponsor soccer jerseys or donate food as part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives. While these programmes may provide upliftment, or solve an immediately pressing issue, there is no sustainability.
To be truly sustainable, companies should be focussing on community service that adds long-term value, such as providing skills that provide ongoing benefits. By focussing on the core literacy skills of maths and reading; providing tools that help give a solid foundation in these areas; businesses can be involved in community service. This will serve the community well for years to come and have many roll-on effects to improve the community.
Partner with Stimulus Maksima! to improve literacy skills
Stimulus Maksima! provides a computer-aided learning system that helps to develop foundational reading and maths skills. It’s a great way for school children to learn to read or to improve reading and numerical skills to solidify those core skills. Businesses can sponsor Stimulus Maksima! programmes in local community schools. The programme can also be used to provide literacy training to their own employees, to improve their skills and potential for opportunities.