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South African Journal of Childhood Education

On-line version ISSN 2223-7682
Print version ISSN 2223-7674


VEERABUDREN, Sattiavany et al. Grade 4 learners with reading and writing difficulties in Mauritius: Oral reading and spelling characteristics. SAJCE [online]. 2023, vol.13, n.1, pp.1-9. ISSN 2223-7682.

BACKGROUND: Learners with reading and writing difficulties (RWD) are accommodated in Mauritian government schools without formal curriculum adjustment and teacher support. Little is known about their RWD. The aim was to describe the characteristics of Grade 4 learners with RWD. AIM: To describe the characteristics of Grade 4 learners with RWD. SETTING: Government primary schools in Mauritius, in urban and rural areas. METHODS: Grade 4 learners with RWD from 20 randomly selected schools were identified with the Screening Tool for Learning Disorders (STLD). A comparative design was used. Parents of 67 learners with RWD (research group [RG]) gave consent. Forty-nine learners without RWD were selected as a control group (CG) based on academic performance and consent. Hearing loss and visual impairment were excluded. The Clinical Evaluation of Language Function Observation Rating Scale (CELF-5 ORS), the Schonell Spelling Test and the Gray Oral Reading Test were used. RESULTS: The CELF-5 ORS showed a wide range of difficulties of the RG with speaking, listening, oral reading and writing. There were significant differences between the RG and CG with reading and spelling. Despite being in Grade 4 (mean age 9.0 years), the mean spelling age for the RG was 5.5 years, corresponding to a Grade 1 level. Positive correlations were found between the STLD and listening, speaking and reading on the CELF-5 ORS for the RG. The more likely it was that participants had specific learning disorders on the STLD, the worse the spelling. Those with a history of speech and language delay performed more poorly with reading and spelling. CONCLUSION: Difficulties were confirmed by all the measures. Diagnostic assessments for specific learning disorders are required to exclude intellectual disability and other comorbidities. There is a dire need for intervention programs for learners with RWD in mainstream government schools in Mauritius. Programs should include speech-language therapists and aim at prevention, identification, diagnosis and intervention. CONTRIBUTION: The study is important for speech-language therapists working in the education system and primary school teachers. There is a dire need to implement intervention programs for learners with RWD in mainstream government schools in Mauritius.

Keywords : Grade 4 learners; reading and writing difficulties; mainstream government schools; Mauritius; specific learning disorder.

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