Provincial Launch of Early Grade Reading Project (AEGRP)

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, May 29, 2018
USAID/Southern Africa Acting Director, Rebecca Krzywda delivers remarks at the official launch of AEGRP in Bloemfontein, Free State
Free State province and Save the Children SA launch the Early Grade reading Project supported by USAID
Mr. Etienne Bramley - AEGR Provincial Manager, Ms. Rebecca Krzywda - USAID/Southern Africa Deputy Mission Director, Free State MEC for Education, Mr. Tate Makgoe and Ms. Gugu Xaba of Save the Children SA
USAID/Southern Africa
  • Honorable M-E-C Makgoe,
  • Advocate T.H. Malakoane,
  • Ms. P Phala
  • Ms. Gugu Xaba, Mr. Etienne Bramley,
  • Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dumelang! This is my first visit to Bloemfontein, but already I can see why it is known as the city of flowers and also a province that is producing great readers. Thank you for inviting me here for the launch of the Accelerated Early Grade Reading Project, a project that speaks to the future of South Africa.

This project also speaks to me, personally.  I am a mother of three children, two boys and a girl, all in high school.

I’ve always believed in the importance of teaching children to read at a very young age. It’s critical to their success in school, work, and life. Not every child learns to read at the same pace, which is why these partnerships are so important to look at ways and reading strategies, and help transition throughout the primary grades. 

So, when my children were babies, we read to them all the time. They learned to love stories before they learned to talk or read. At home, we taught them the alphabet, and how to sound out words, which are the building blocks of reading. By the time they were in school, you could not get them away from their books.

Many times I got notes from the teacher that they were reading instead of listening to the teacher.

Our family commitment to reading paid off, and not all learned to read at the same time or same pace.

The children are teenagers now, but as a family, we still read together. Right now, all of us are plowing through the popular series called “Game of Throne”. It is a rather dark tale that fills five books, each about 900 pages long. This is book number three, and as you can see from the tiny print, you have to really love reading to get through it. The author quoted that a reader lives a thousand lives before she or he dies.

We’re also putting together a family reading list for the winter holidays. We find that when we share the same books, we have a shared experience, and we always have a topic of conversation that interests both parents and teenagers.

I’m very grateful that my children love reading as much as I do. And I am thankful to the many teachers who have encouraged and supported my children to improve their reading skills. My daughter yesterday said I have some many teachers to thank. The project looks to help teacher training which is a critical component of this.

Last year, I had an opportunity to attend a reading showcase in Bizana, Eastern Cape, organized by a USAID-funded Implementing Partner (Nalibali). What was planned as a reading event, turned out to be a demonstration of what communities, schools, and government can achieve if they combine their resources, skills, and expertise in support of education.

I recognize that the Department of Education here and Save the Children have a similarly strong partnership. The Accelerated Early Grade Reading Project is an example of a partnership that works.

So, as the Acting USAID Mission Director AND as a mother, I congratulate you on the official launch of this reading initiative for the children of the Free State.

 I also applaud the MEC and the Free State Department of Education and their partners for achieving the best Matric results in South Africa with 75.1 average and investing in education which is so important.

Finally, I would like to convey our gratitude to the Free State Department of Education for in-kind contributions to support this reading activity, resources such as office space for Save the Children to use in all districts, AND to Mr. Etienne Bramley and his team for their leadership in implementing this project.

Thank you very much.

Bloemfontein, Free State Province
Issuing Country