Moving from a discourse of access to reading instructional materials to the management and utilisation thereof : Progress International Reading Literature Study at Grade 4 in South Africa

31 May 2017

Two cycles of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) were completed in South Africa in 2006 and 2011. In this article, we investigate the qualities of high-performing reading literacy schools for optimal resource management and utilisation strategies for possible application to low-performing schools. We do this against the background of reports on reading resource shortages and inadequacies in the context of reading literacy learning from both of the PIRLS main studies. This is done by comparing six case study schools with varying contexts and performance levels. The findings from a secondary analysis using the PIRLS 2006 data together with six case studies using international reading benchmarks from PIRLS 2006 to depict performance levels, confirmed that learners in low-performing schools from the study had inadequate access to reading instruction resources. This appeared partly attributable to inadequate funding and government provisioning; ineffective resource management at school level and non-resourcefulness of teachers at classroom level exacerbating reading resource inadequacies; as well as ineffective utilisation of materials at these low-performing schools. The resource management and utilisation strategies of high-performing case study schools were found to be potential models for schools with inadequate strategies.