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09 September 2021

International Literacy Day webinar to explore literacy in the South African schooling and higher education contexts

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Press Release

Pretoria, Wednesday 8 September 2021 – According to UNESCO, despite the steady rise in literacy rates over the past 50 years, there are still 773 million illiterate adults worldwide, most of whom are women. A further 250 million children are not acquiring basic literacy skills.

To continue the conversation around literacy with a particular focus on the South African context, the Human Sciences Research Council’s Inclusive Economic Development research division will host a seminar to mark this year’s International Literacy Day on 8 September 2021 from 13h30 to 15h30.

International Literacy Day is a reminder that literacy is a human right and the foundation of all learning. Being able to read and write is a source of empowerment and enables individuals to succeed academically and enter the workforce, as well as to actively participate in society. Literacy enriches lives and is linked to health and wellbeing outcomes.

The South African government has recognised illiteracy as a matter of concern for children, youth, and adults. Literacy development in South African is complicated, however, by the current language in education practices and unequal educational opportunities amongst other contextual factors.

In order to achieve the goal of national literacy, lessons learnt must be reviewed  and effective strategies identified in order to enhance literacy at all levels. This seminar provides a space for this discussion and aims to draw together knowledge and insights from a range of role players. 

Presenters include: 

1.Associate Professor Kathleen Heugh, School of Communication, International Studies and Languages, University of South Australia 

2.Dr Karen Roux, Centre for Evaluation and Assessment, University of Pretoria 

3.Dr Alude Mahali, Inclusive Economic Development research division, Human Sciences Research Council

The details of the event are as follows:

Date:8 September 2021

Time:13h30 to 15h30

Zoom link:

For media enquiries contact: Adziliwi Nematandani – 082 765 9191 or

About the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

The HSRC was established in 1968 as South Africa’s statutory research agency and has grown to become the largest dedicated research institute in the social sciences and humanities on the African continent, doing cutting-edge public research in areas that are crucial to development.

Our mandate is to inform the effective formulation and monitoring of government policy; to evaluate policy implementation; to stimulate public debate through the effective dissemination of research-based data and fact-based research results; to foster research collaboration; and to help build research capacity and infrastructure for the human sciences. 

The Council conducts large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific research for public sector users, non-governmental organisations and international development agencies. Research activities and structures are closely aligned with South Africa’s national development priorities.

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This seminar is partially funded by the Department of Science and Innovation. The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of the DSI. Please note that this seminar will be recorded and published on the HSRC podcast channel. The HSRC complies with the South African PoPIA and the Electronic Communications Transactions Act of 2002 Section 45: (1) any person who sends unsolicited commercial communications to stakeholders, must provide the stakeholders with the option to cancel their subscription to that mailing list. To opt-out or unsubscribe from this mailing list, please email us at

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