Involvement of the Roger Federer Foundation

Since 2010, the Roger Federer Foundation has been partnering with READ and together, they implemented an early childhood care and education initiative in rural areas of South Africa (link to the programme). In 2013, a complementing whole school, in-service teacher training programme started, which focuses on language, literacy, and communication in a number of primary schools in the catchment area of the ECD centers of the first programme. Up to date, the Board has approved a total budget of CHF 1,250,000 for this intervention, which is currently in its second phase. Thirty primary schools participate in each two-year phase. The objectives of the programme are:

  • To increase students' reading performance by 10%
  • To move 80% of teachers to a higher grading level every term
  • To achieve one comprehensive and good quality written activity per day in learners’ workbooks
  • To improve primary school teachers' knowledge of the methodologies needed to teach literacy, while enabling them to fulfill the requirements of the curriculum
  • To establish working groups in each school to implement the literacy programme as a team, including the subject teachers so that they, too, promote subject related literacy and enhance textbook learning with a particular emphasis on science literacy
  • To equip practitioners in the 6 feeding preschools with the appropriate knowledge and skills to enhance early literacy in young pre-school learners
  • To empower school managers and Heads of Departments to manage the literacy programme in their school and to mentor the implementation of the programme by the staff of the school on an on-going basis

After phase one, an assessment has taken place in order to learn from experiences and improve the programme. The main lessons learnt were:

  • The programme addresses a real gap in the South African education system and is highly relevant. The quality of language teaching remains a challenge. When asked, all teachers, principles, and circuit managers who were interviewed acknowledged that their language teaching skills needed improvement.
  • All stakeholders agreed that the intervention changed the quality of education among the key actors. There has been improvement in the learners’ language competence and motivation to read, write and speak English as well as their first language. 
  • One strength of the programme is that it was complementing government efforts. The department of basic education provides teachers with the content to be taught in language lessons through CAPS. READ addressed the "how" part of teaching. As a result of the training provided by READ, teachers have become more competent and confident.
  • There has been improvement in the classroom environment. Teachers have improved the appearance of the classroom to make it more child-friendly. In all the schools visited, the classrooms had talking walls.
  • But the programme was lacking of SMART indicators to measure the changes on a teacher level.
  • As a way to sustain the project gains, READ established the lead-teacher mentorship system. Strong and motivated teachers are identified and further trained to support fellow teachers beyond the project life span. In some schools, however, this lead teacher system causes conflicts with the school leadership structures. In other cases, the system as a whole is still weak. Furthermore, the community engagement needs to be strengthened.
  • On a lead teacher and SMT level, the empowerment approach is well chosen but collaboration and mentoring still need to be strengthened.

Our implementing partner READ

Read Educational Trust is a non-governmental organisation active in rural and town schools in South Africa. Read enables the further training of teachers, and provides the schools with material. The teachers are trained how to use resources for teaching children to read and write, and are taught the options of effectively integrating these into lessons. Furthermore, Read trains carers as part of the programme for the benefit of children’s early development, and provides them with educational material and toys. Read was established in 1979 and, since then, has continued to develop. Read’s first project was providing schools in Soweto with libraries. Today, Read works in close cooperation with the education ministry, private donors and schools in order to stem the crisis in the field of education in South Africa.


South Africa Facts

47.2 Mio
Compulsory education
7-16 years
Enrolment ratio
primary 89%, secondary 62%
Illiteracy rate
12% of children under 5 are undernourished