Review Article

Family literacy programmes in South Africa: Should we take note?

Sarlina G. le Roux
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 10, No 1 | a819 | DOI: | © 2020 Sarlina G. le Roux | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 October 2019 | Published: 18 August 2020

About the author(s)

Sarlina G. le Roux, Department of Early Childhood Education, College of Education, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Background: South Africa has one of the lowest-performing education systems in the world. By the fourth grade, many learners are already 2 or more years behind their peers, especially in mathematics and literacy. Family literacy programmes as a form of home-school partnership are often proposed as an early intervention to support early literacy learning. Family literacy programmes remain a new concept in South Africa and little formal research has been undertaken on the nature, availability and implications of such programmes in this country.

Aim: The aim of this article is to investigate family literacy programmes currently running in South Africa by means of a theoretical framework.

Setting: The data presented here are the result of an electronic search comprising books and journal articles for the period 1990–2019.

Methods: For this article, a qualitative analysis was undertaken, using concept analysis as the main data collection technique. Key words such as ‘family literacy’, ‘family literacy programmes’, ‘intergenerational literacy’ and ‘home-school partnerships’ were used to produce a sample obtained by simple random sampling.

Results: An inductive data analysis approach was followed to identify and discuss programmes that fit the attributes and criteria of family literacy programmes and to make recommendations towards partnership attributes, resource and activity attributes, and future research to clarify implications.

Conclusion: If family literacy programmes are to gain momentum, researchers must continue to unpack what this concept holds to ensure such programmes yield optimal results, not only for participating families, but also for the South African schooling system in general.


early childhood education; early intervention; early literacy; emergent literacy; family literacy; family literacy programmes; home environments; home-school collaboration; intergenerational literacy; parent involvement


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