Buddy Reader

Read For Africa offers individual teachers, parents, volunteers and others the opportunity to learn how to teach reading and spelling whilst contributing to the Buddy Reader Campaign.


Read For Africa’s Buddy Reader Campaign

The fight for the creation of a nation that is employable and therefore literate continues, and the approach we have taken is not original but effective, stated simply as – “one person can make a difference” – and this is the essence of the Read For Africa “Buddy Reader” Campaign, launched in 2002.

People from all sectors of the community are being encouraged to contribute to this plight and be a “buddy” in a variety of ways to make a difference.

There are times when the changes are so great that one can say “This event truly made a difference.” An example of this was our first democratic elections in 1994 when the term “New South Africa” was coined. But we cannot have an election every year; we cannot re-create a nation every year. We are now at the point in the development of South Africa where it is the small sustainable differences that we can make every day that make the significant changes in the lives of individuals and the nation as a whole.

Literacy and Numeracy skills underpin all curriculum areas at Primary, Secondary and Tertiary levels as well as jobs and tasks in the workplace. These fundamental skills are often taken for granted by employers as many people lack these skills at all levels in a company.

Read for Africa works with children and adults ranging from people who may have weak English reading and writing skills to professional people, who may read well, but their written work (report, proposal and letter writing) is affected by their poor spelling.

The aim of the “Buddy Reader” Campaign is to increase awareness of the

potential of individuals to make a difference in the lives of new readers (adults and children) and,  by so doing, help to change the illiteracy statistics in this country.  “Buddy Reading” is a technique within the Phono-Graphix Reading and spelling method, but Read For Africa has taken the term further to inculcate a culture of “being a buddy”

Volunteers Buddy Up!

buddy_readerVolunteers from all walks of life get involved. Representatives from the private sector as well as Education, school children, retired people, and various other communities continue to receive basic training on how to “buddy read” with learners at various centres where Phono-Graphix is being used with learners. At some of these centres learners have missed out on these skills and don’t have the necessary support after hours to practice and further develop the skills that they have been acquiring through Learnerships and other skills programmes.

“Buddies” are trained to point out various sounds to the learner, break up long words, explain the meaning of the text when necessary and encourage fluency.

These learners in many cases do not have literate parents and in many cases do not have their own books, magazines, or newspapers in their homes. buddy_reader02Children from Kingsmead Junior School have been “buddies” and have read with the learners from Sparrow’s Foundation School and Kingsway Junior School during literacy week on several occasions and continue to support the campaign.

The campaign has attracted a lot of interest because the emphasis is on providing the skills that are required to access the reading material that is donated. So often boxes and boxes of books are donated to centres, but the books just lie in a corner because the learners page through them once, but are unable to make sense of the text and do not understand their value.

Having Read For Africa “buddy readers” on board ensures that basic skills are reinforced and further developed.

The benefits of the programme touch the lives of many.

Apart from the educational impact of the involvement of the “buddies”, it is also the social interaction, the relationships that are built, and the mentorship roles that transpire naturally.

“Illiteracy” vs “Alliteracy”

The effects of illiteracy (can’t read) in South Africa are obvious but aliteracy (won’t read) is also a great concern amongst our youth.

The Annual National Assessments (ANA) conducted in schools across the country showed that nationally, Grade 3 learners performed at an average of 35 percent in Literacy and 28 percent in Numeracy. In Grade 6, the national average performance in languages is 28 percent, while mathematics performance is 30 percent.  (DBE, 2011)

It is a well documented fact that in many cases learners have the numeric/mathematical ability but as word sums get introduced, learners start performing badly in maths because they can’t read the questions.

In a recent Quantitative Research Survey conducted by the South African Book Development Council, it was deduced that 51% of South African households did not have a single book in their homes and that only 14% of South Africans are active readers. Sadly, only 5% of South Africans read to their children. Another significant finding is that 45% of the poll felt that books were too expensive, while 27% said they do not read because there is no library nearby, and 22% said that books are too difficult to read.

This has implications for ability in spelling as children and adults can’t be expected to become good spellers if they have never read the words that they are trying to spell.

With the inception of television and later computers our society has become increasingly ‘alliterate’ and it is hoped that “buddies” or mentors will assist in reinstating a culture of reading in our youth.

buddy_reader01With the introduction of social media sites, The kindle, iPads, and other tablets, children are needing to familiarise themselves with these devices and are luckily being encouraged to read a bit more in order to do so.

A new concept in Buddy Reading which is being adopted by Read For Africa and many others is the “iPad iBuddi”

In the absence of regular input from parents and caregivers children are able to assist themselves to a certain extent. Guidance and advice is still required here and Read For Africa demonstrates which “free downloads” to embrace / avoid.



Volunteer Training


As part of the campaign, all “buddy readers” are encouraged to attend courses where they learn more about the method and contribute to the community at the same time. Attendees gain Practical experience in assisting/teaching a person to read whilst contributing to a disadvantaged community which is a win-win situation. Schools who implement the Read For Africa Whole School approach are encouraged to implement the buddy reader campaign where parents and volunteers are trained on how to be buddies so that they can read with children who don’t get enough support at home. These buddies are trained to reinforce certain skills and concepts being taught in the class room.

Buddy Reader T-shirts

tshirtT-shirts with the “buddy reader” logo on it are available and can be branded for organisations who get involved or sponsor. These T-shirts create awareness for the campaign and give “buddies” an identity.



International Literacy Day – 8 September

Read For Africa and Kingsmead Junior School celebrate literacy week every year in September which coincides with National Book Week. “Buddy hours” are arranged at various sites and older children, parents and volunteers read with the children at their own schools are at schools that they visit.


Buddies at this event include:


Jonathan Ball - donate books for various causes


Kingsway Christian School - a popular Buddy Reader Site


Kingsmead Junior School

- train their learners on how to be “buddy readers” who all purchase a buddy reader T-shirt and buddy up with learners their age or who are younger than them to read with.




To find out more about how you can be a “buddy” contact our buddy line on


011 7046418 or 082 322 0608 or email  buddy@readforafrica.com


Visit us at www.readforafrica.com