Reading comprehension in high-poverty schools: How should it be taught and how well does it work?

  • Elizabeth J Pretorius
  • Mirriam Lephalala


This article describes and appraises a reading comprehension programme that was aimed at Grade 6 learners and teachers and implemented in different ways in two high poverty primary schools where reading levels were very low. The programme was implemented during formal school hours at the one school, while it was offered after school as a voluntary afternoon activity at the other school.  Because attendance of the voluntary programme was generally poor, the latter school served as a control site. The results of the comprehension programme for the learners’ reading abilities in their home language, Northern Sotho, and in English are reported. On the basis of these findings, we evaluate the programme and identify ‘lessons learned’ from its implementation that may have relevance for future reading comprehension interventions.

Author Biographies

Elizabeth J Pretorius
Prof. Elizabeth Pretorius is a lecturer at Unisa, Department of Linguistics. Her research interests include examining the relationship between language, cognition, reading ability and literacy skills.E-mail address:
Mirriam Lephalala
Dr Mirriam Lephalala is a lecturer at Unisa, Department of English Studies. Her areas of research include language teaching, learning, assessment and literacy. E-mail address: