Contextual challenges in early literacy teaching and learning in Grade R rural schools in South Africa

  • Kesh Mohangi University of South Africa
  • Soezin Krog
  • Oluyemi Stephens
  • Norma Nel


Early literacy teaching and learning in Grade R rural schools experience persistent challenges which compound the low literacy rates evidenced overall in South African schools. In this article we provide an overview of challenges that teachers in selected Gauteng Grade R classrooms experience in delivering a literacy curriculum.  Three purposively selected rural schools, each comprising three Grade R classrooms served as research sites. Participants were nine teachers and three Heads of Departments (HOD). Qualitative data was gathered using semi-structured interviews with teachers and the HOD in each school. We also administered a questionnaire and conducted classroom observations to gain first-hand information. Through a process of thematic content analysis the following themes emerged: 1) pedagogical challenges 2) resources and provisioning 3) management and support. Findings illustrate the difficulties that Grade R teachers and management (HOD) experience in delivering a literacy curriculum in schools situated in rural settings. Poverty, unemployment of parents, transport challenges as well as language issues compound the problems the teachers experience in delivering the Grade R literacy curriculum. Furthermore, limited professional training of Grade R teachers has impacted on literacy delivery.

Author Biographies

Kesh Mohangi, University of South Africa
Kesh Mohangi is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology of Education at Unisa.  Her research interest include, amongst others,  learning and learning support, developmental psychology as well as well-being in schools. Kesh is an Educational Psychologist registered with the HPCSA. Email:
Soezin Krog
Soezin Krog is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Early Childhood Education at Unisa.  She holds a D Ed degree and supervises Masters and Doctoral students.  Her research interests include, amongst others,  early childhood education, physical education, sports coaching and sports psychology.   Soezin is also an Educational Psychologist registered with the HPCSA.  Email:
Oluyemi Stephens
Oluyemi Stephens is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Department of Psychology of Education, College of Education, University of South Africa. He holds a Ph.D degree in Counselling Psychology. He has a number of publications in journals as well as book chapters.Email:
Norma Nel
Norma Margaret Nel is a Professor Emeritus, Research Fellow and NRF rated researcher at the University of South Africa. She holds a DED. She supervises Masters and Doctoral students as well as a Post-Doctoral fellow. She is actively involved in research related to education on a national and international level. Email: