Transforming Learners’ Reading Skills in Primary Schools: Creating Sustainable Teaching and Learning Opportunities Through Technology
Research has shown that developing learners’ reading proficiency is one of the cornerstones in addressing the problem of illiteracy. It is however, a challenging task for teachers to determine the reading abilities of their learners before they could embark on the actual teaching process. This study reports on the assessment of learners’ reading proficiency in English of Grades 3-6 in some selected rural primary schools of Limpopo Province as a precursor for teaching reading. The study also report on the introduction of technology in the teaching of reading and its impact on learners’ performance. The study followed a descriptive cross-sectional design. A total of 4235 (males N= 2118 and female N=2117) learners from 15 schools, who were part of the Barongwa Educational Resources (Non-Governmental Organisation Project) participated in the study. Data was collected through a reading test adopted from the One Minute Reading Test Competency. The test consisted of items that tested learners on spelling and the correct usage of words. Fifteen primary schools in Mankweng circuit were purposefully selected for this study. Schools were divided into the experimental ones (10) and non-experimental ones (5). Learners at all schools sat for the pre-intervention one minute test which tested them on their reading skills. The 10 experimental schools were then taken through the reading process in their classrooms for a period of one year as an intervention programme. The usage of technology as an intervention strategy in teaching reading skills was introduced in the ten experimental schools. All learners were then requested to sit for a post-test on reading proficiencies at the end of the academic year. Data was analysed using the SPSS. The results of the post-test indicated a significant improvement in learners reading proficiency (experimental schools), unlike the pre-test which indicated a low level of their proficiency in reading. This study recommends that the introduction of technology in transforming learners reading skills helps in preparing them for the 21st century learning demands and creates sustainable opportunities for them. Technology assist in making the reading content more relevant and enjoyable for learners.