LITASA is dedicated to promoting teaching and research in reading and writing at all levels in South African society. Our organisation aims to empower and help all South African citizens to be literate and able to develop to their fullest potential.

Previously known as the Reading Association of South Africa (RASA), we are now known as the Literacy Association of South Africa (LITASA). This change is in line with global trends which acknowledge that literacy is about much more than reading and writing. It encompasses many different forms of literacy including visual literacy, information literacy and digital literacy amongst others.

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If you become a member of LITASA now, you’ll receive exclusive access to our special member’s area. It’s packed with useful information and resources. We update it regularly so be sure to check back often.


We are delighted to inform everyone that our KZN branch is up and running once again. Many thanks to Darryl David and Rizana Hoosen who spearheaded the arrangements. Thanks also go to the new committee. We look forward to working with you and wish you well in your province. You can find out more on the KZN branch page.

Plans for the conference are going well. Abstract submissions have now closed and the conference committee is putting together the draft programme. We had an overwhelming response and we're really looking forward to engaging with everyone in October. Be sure to get your registration in as soon as you can.

Our very own Nangamso Mtsatse wrote an interesting article for Mail&Guardian in honour of Youth Day. Follow this link to read it: https://mg.co.za/article/2018-06-15-00-we-havent-achieved-the-aims-of-june-16

For those of you who missed the Funde Wande/Education Fishtank panel discussion entitled "What do we know about teaching early grade reading in African languages?", you can catch up here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQzRg5Fc6pM

One of our Board members represented LITASA on the panel that adjudicated the recent Evoke: Leaders for Literacy competition at a community event organised by Worldvision, Pearson South Africa and All Children Reading. During the event, youth participants from two high schools in Tembisa shared their solutions to barriers to literacy in their community with a panel of judges. The top teams received awards in the form of seed funding to implement their projects. It was a wonderful celebration of what communities can do when they unite to solve their own problems.

Submissions for the English Academy Awards are open. Categories include Best Literary Article, Short Story, Youth Literature and Prose. Find out more here: https://www.englishacademy.co.za/awards.html

Good luck with all your literacy activities, keep warm and see you online and at our events!

DEATH NOTICE | Professor Gregory Kamwendo

LITASA notes with shock and sadness the brutal murder on Tuesday 22 May of Professor Gregory Kamwendo, the Dean in the Faculty of Arts at UniZulu.

Professor Kamwendo was known to many in our organisation and wider community of practice as a softly spoken but persistent and steadfast champion of mother tongue based language education.

Our deep condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. Words cannot do justice to the magnitude of the loss, but in honouring his memory, and the contribution he has made, we share here the words of appreciation published by the University of Zululand. May he rest in peace - Mzimu wake uwuse mumtendele.


The University of Zululand wishes to express its sincere appreciation for the life and work of the late Professor Gregory Kamwendo. At the time of his passing Professor Kamwendo was the Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Zululand. The passing of Professor Kamwendo has left the University of Zululand with a deep sense of devastation, in particular with reference to the manner in which his life was ended.

Professor Kamwendo obtained a Diploma in Education (University of Malawi), B.Ed (University of Malawi), MA (Lancaster University, UK) and a PhD (Helsinki, Finland).

He was known for his research interests and contribution in Language Education, Sociolinguistics, Language Policy and Planning. He published extensively in reputable journals such as the Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development; International Journal of the Sociology of Language; Language Policy; Language Problems and Language Planning; English Today; Language Matters and others.

Professor Kamwendo was a prolific author in Sociolinguistics Studies and Education and he contributed to the field significantly in research projects, supervision and publications. In addition, he was a Guest Editor of the journal Language Matters in 2009 and Alternation in 2014, both of which are prestigious interdisciplinary Journals for the Study of the Arts and Humanities in Southern Africa. He was also the guest editor of the Nordic Journal of African Studies in 2016. He was also one of the members of the editorial advisory board of the journal Inkanyiso, the University of Zululand Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences. He is one of three editors of the book Multilingualism in Education and Communities in Southern Africa with Dudu Jankie and Andy Chebanne. Professor Kamwendo published 4 books, 28 book chapters, edited 3 special journal issues as a guest editor, more than fifty journal articles and presented numerous conference papers. He supervised numerous Master’s and Doctoral candidates.

During his tenure as Dean and through his involvement as Treasurer of the South African Humanities Dean’s Association (SAHUDA), he brought extensive experience to these professional positions. He also had extensive engagement through previous work experience at various universities such as in Malawi (where he worked at the University of Malawi), Botswana (University of Botswana) and South Africa (University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of Zululand).

Professor Kamwendo was the principal driver of the development of the Language Policy of the University of Zululand and also the principal resource in the contextual revival of Humanities and Social Sciences at the university and nationally. One of the projects that were his passion is the establishment of a community media radio and television station at the University of Zululand.

Professor Kamwendo was noted everywhere for his passion and dedication to his work, vocation and profession. This is evidenced by one of his popular quotes from the Bible which he almost always used to encourage the pursuit of excellence amongst colleagues and students: For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required, Luke 12:48 in the King James Version. It therefore goes without saying that Professor Kamwendo was a staunch Catholic Christian and lived accordingly.

The University of Zululand community extends its sincere condolences to the Mrs Kamwendo, their children and family, friends, colleagues and students as well as to the nation of Malawi.

Issued by: Professor X. Mtose – University Vice Chancellor & Rector

24 May 2018

There is so much going on in the world of literacy that we've barely had time to gather news for you!

Several partner organisations have asked us to share exciting information with our members and friends. In the last few months, we've posted information about conferences and job opportunities here on the home page and also via email. LITASA's mandate is to promote best practice in teaching and research concerning literacy, and we feel that sharing information is a key way of fulfilling our mandate. We are hoping this will become a regular feature of the website as we continue to build it. Please feel free to get in touch if there is anything you would like us to share with our community. And if you are not receiving emails but would like to, please contact Sandra on info@litasa.org.za and she can add you to the database as well.

So, what have we been up to during the first quarter of the year? Our Board met in February and developed many ideas to ensure the growth and sustainability of LITASA. Many of our branches elected new exco committee members at their AGMs. We would like to welcome them and thank them for the work they do for the organisation. You can find out who your local exco committee is on the contact page of this website.

The DBE hosted an improvement plan workshop on the Early Grade Reading Study during March in Pretoria which some of our members attended. It was a very productive session during which working groups were set up to tackle issues that emerged from the workshop.

The DBE also hosted a conference on the teaching of African Home Language during April. Several key education specialists presented at the event and we look forward to sharing their learning.

A few of our members attended the International Literacy Summit in Oxford, England during March. This year's theme was 'Closing the global literacy gap in the 21st century'. It was a fantastic conference which got everyone inspired and excited again about our field.

Speaking of excitement, plans for our conference are well under way. The first call for papers was emailed out a few weeks ago and we will be sending reminders in the coming weeks. The deadline for abstracts is 1 June though, so you don't have much time. You can submit via the form on the conference page of this website. If you haven't been receiving updates on the conference please email conference@litasa.org.za and we'll make sure to add you to our mailing list.

In the mean time, check what's happening within your local branch by clicking on the relevant map. Also, a few Board members will be representing LITASA at the Education Innovation Summit in Sandton at the end of May.

We hope you enjoy the crisp days of autumn and look forward to seeing you online and at our various events.


Global Reading Network/REACH is aggressively recruiting for a consultant to support our partnership with the Global Digital Library (GLD). We need the overall “thinker” who can help envision how to move the reading instruction book-side of the Global Digital Library (https://digitallibrary.io/) platform forward effectively and sustainably. This individual will develop content sourcing and quality assurance processes for decodable and leveled readers; design and pilot a book reviewer strategy (in select mother tongue languages); and provide other advice on GLD sustainability. This individual will start by overseeing sourcing of a large number of decodable and leveled readers from USAID mission-funded activities. We will be working with the Global Book Alliance (http://globalbookalliance.org/) on this effort.


Conference on Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties in the Adolescent Learner (Johannesburg, 15 May)

Bellavista S.H.A.R.E. is the Education Resource Centre of Bellavista School, an independent school in Johannesburg that is widely regarded as a centre of excellence in the field of remedial education.

Our partners at Bellavista S.H.A.R.E. asked us to distribute details of this exciting conference.

More information is available in this flyer      

This is a teleworking position, so the individual can be located anywhere globally. This is a less than 50% time effort – we have other team members to support communications, coordination and metadata review.

You may be interested in the International ELINET Symposium 2018, with the theme “Literacy in the 21st Century: Participation – Inclusion – Equity”, to be held on 23-24 July 2018 in Cologne, Germany. For more information visit: http://www.eli-net.eu/events/elinet-association-symposium-2018-cologne. The call for contributions has been extended to 30 April, so get in quick!

We hope that you had an excellent festive season and a well-deserved rest. 2017 was full of surprises and ended on a troubled note with the release of the results of PIRLS 2016 which reported that 8 in 10 children in the country are unable to read for meaning. No doubt, you are aware of the concerning picture that the results paint and LITASA reaffirms our dedication to literacy and to our citizens. We hope that you will join us in standing firm and recommit with us to help every person in South Africa reach their full potential.

On a brighter note, we wish you all the best for 2018. May it be your most productive and prosperous year yet! We are looking forward to partnering with you in your literacy activities this year.

Our branches will be holding their annual AGMs during February so please check the relevant branch page in the coming weeks for information on this important meeting. It is your chance to mingle with people in your area, find out more about your local branch and maybe even get involved as an exco member!

As always, our national board will be meeting in March to report on 2017 activities, take stock and set our goals for the year.

The website continues to be developed this year and we hope to be adding some exciting new sections to the members’ area soon.

Feel free to contact us with any questions you have. See you during the year!


The Gauteng branch of LITASA is a vibrant and well-supported community of literacy specialists. We host workshops in Johannesburg and Pretoria but welcome any interested people from across the wonderful province of Gauteng to join our events. You can contact us on gauteng@litasa.org.za. We would love to hear from you!

2018 NEWS

LITASA Gauteng
Literacy in our Lifetime event

16 June 2018, Thaba Jabula Secondary School, Soweto. LITASA members attended the launch of Literacy in our Lifetime, a special interest group of teachers, researchers and activists who promote and protect literacy for all South African learners. The event was an opportunity to meet with like minded people to address issues around teacher training, literacy advocacy, research, materials development and campaign building. We also finally met some of our new members face to face and reconnected with older members. We are so excited that LITASA could be part of this movement steered by young emerging educationalists and cannot wait for the future. The LITASA Gauteng branch are also excited to have two of its committee members, Lucille Moleko and Sven Glietenberg, as two of the founding members of the coalition, along with their colleagues Athambile Masola and Melanie Smuts.

From left to right:
Mpho Maje (ethnikids), Khumo Khaole (ethnikids) and Maxine Schaefer (LITASA Gauteng Treasurer)

    New Board members

  • Helen Cronje (Chairperson)

  • Maxine Schaefer (Treasurer)

  • Lucille Moleko (Secretary)

  • Sven Glietenberg (Networking)

Workshop and AGM 22 February 2018

The Gauteng branch hosted their Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 22 February 2018, at UNISA from 14:00 – 16:00. Before the AGM, LITASA members attended a workshop “Activate games for critical literacy” hosted by Kevin McCaughey from the United States Embassy. In a very practical and engaging session, workshop attendees split into groups and used these games. Through the fun, the attendees learned how to use or make the games in their own contexts. At the end of the workshop, attendees were given a set of the Activate Games to use in their own work with learners in schools.

The AGM was chaired by Carien Wilsenach, outgoing Gauteng Chairperson. She provided an overview of the branch’s activities in 2017, the biggest of which was the annual national conference held at UNISA in Pretoria from 13 – 15 October. Maxine Schaefer, vice-Treasurer in 2017 presented the financial standing of the branch. Nominations for the new committee were received via email. Carien presented these nominations at the AGM and the following office bearers were elected for the branch: Helen Cronje (Chairperson), Maxine Schaefer (Treasurer), Lucille Moleko (Secretary) and Sven Glietenberg (Networking). Carien also thanked the outgoing committee (Catherine Langsford (treasurer, acting Chairperson) and Nangamso Mtsatse (Secretary)) for their hard work in 2017.

Incoming Gauteng Committee: (left to right) Helen Cronje (Chairperson), Maxine Schaefer (Treasurer), Lucille Moleko (Secretary), Sven Glietenberg

Workshop 14 March 2018

Karen Konnerth, a visual storyteller from the United States presented a shadow puppet making workshop on 14 March 2018 at Sunnyside Primary School in Pretoria. After welcoming the participants, Karen presented a very hands-on workshop. Participants split into three groups, brainstormed a story they could use in their classroom and made puppets to go with the story. Karen supplied worksheets which participants followed, but could also be used in their own classrooms. At the end of the workshop, participants presented their stories. The teachers and NGO representative who attended thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and a number of them said they would be incorporating the shadow puppets in their own classrooms in the coming terms. Karen ended the workshop with a presentation of the various puppets she has used in education, such as puppets made from easily sourced materials like plastic bottles and a handkerchief.

Karen Konnerth sharing her enthusiasm for puppets in the classroom

A teacher from Sunnyside Primary presenting her shadow puppet to the group

Making shadow puppets from black cardboard and a few examples

Annual General Meeting

Time: Workshop 14:00 - 15:00 ; AGM 15:15 to 16:00

Venue: Unisa Muckleneuk Campus; Room to be confirmed.

Cost: Members Free; Non-members R50

Workshop presenter: Kevin McCaughey (United States Embass)

Workshop title: Activate games for critical thinking

Participants will engage with Activate Games, a publication from the U.S. Department of State. Activate exemplifies, in fact insists on, a learner-centered approach to literacy, one that assumes literacy entails the abilities to read, write, speak, and listen - and, one hopes - to combine these skills to allow learners the opportunity to examine their lives and the world around them. In classrooms the world over, and in South Africa too, learners get little classroom time to put their minds together, share opinions, or solve problems while developing their English. Activate Games provide a schematic for doing so. They are open-ended, without correct or incorrect answers. Learner opinions and experience are what matter.