Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe
On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
NEWMAN, Linda and LE CORDEUR, Michael. Perspectives of teachers regarding the use of the reading period and school libraries in selected schools in the Northern Cape. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2014, vol.54, n.4, pp. 805-819. ISSN 2224-7912.
Reading is one of the cornerstones of learning. Research shows an escalating concern about the reading ability of South African learners. In an attempt to improve the literacy levels of learners, the Northern Cape Department of Education instructed schools to implement a daily reading period of 30 minutes. Schools are required to indicate the reading period on the timetable and reading must be formally instructed. The purpose ofthis study was to determine the perspectives of teachers on the use of the reading period and school libraries. It was hypothesised, first, that teachers do not expose learners sufficiently to reading. Secondly, teachers do not create a reading culture or foster a positive attitude towards reading, because they ignore the reading period and do not make use of the library as a resource. A mixed-method approach was followed utilising both quantitative and qualitative research designs to obtain data. The study consisted of a literature review supported by an empirical study. The empirical study was conducted at two high schools in the Namaqua district. The data were collected by means of a questionnaire which was completed by 16 Grade 8 and 9 teachers. Focus group interviews were also conducted with the participating teachers. An analysis of the empirical data showed that, although the reading period is not implemented at either of the two schools, the majority of the teachers are aware of the reading period. However, teachers indicated that they did not receive any guidance or supportfrom the Education Department to assist learners with reading problems. The study showed that many schools do not have a school library and where schools do have a library it seems, from the responses of the teachers, that the library resources are old and insufficient. Hence learners are not exposed to the library to assist them with curriculum assignments. The study confirmed the research hypothesis that the reading period is not being implemented and that the school library is not being used by the teachers to enhance the literacy levels and academic performance of the learners.
Keywords : Reading problems; reading period; school libraries; reading culture; positive reading attitude; Namaqua District; literacy levels.