Project information

Reading Leaders (RLs): Youth Leaders for Literacy

To empower unemployed township youth into community role models, developing them into leaders in literacy by training them to establish and lead safe, educational& recreational Community Reading Clubs in townships, thereby growing their professional experience whilst giving back to their community.

January 2019 - December 2019

Charity information: help2read

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  • Need


    The Reading Leaders programme is tackling the enduring literacy crisis in South Africa where 78% of Grade 4 learners cannot read for meaning. This comes with a high cost as low educational attainment is seen as the principle driver of unemployment among youth, with estimates of 67% of township youth unemployed. Illiteracy is highest in disadvantaged communities with overcrowded classes and a lack of reading resources and libraries, where parents nor teachers have time for one-on-one reading help


    Unemployed township youth are trained as Reading Leaders to support primary school learners in after-school and holiday reading clubs, preventing ‘holiday literacy slides’. They provide broad community access to literacy skills improvement projects while developing their own employability, personal and professional skills. We match learners with committed & trained tutors to simultaneously address the foundation of problems of poor academic achievement, unemployability and poor economic growth.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Harness the power of youth as community assets, role models & agents of change for young children


    » Encourage capable, literate youth to recognise their value as assets to the community and their role as leaders, changemakers and role models
    » Develop the skills of youth to act as Reading Leaders equipped to implement reading help and literacy development programmes
    » Provide an added opportunity for growth for RLs to gain professional experience in operating a small, income-generation, initiative (Reading Clubs)

    What success will look like

    # youth recruited, trained and engaged in personal/professional development & delivering reading clubs & community literacy activities

    Aim 2

    Provide ongoing skills development & regular mentorship&supervision to enhance RLs' career prospects


    » Ensure Reading Leaders receive a variety of skills development & training opportunities in both hard and soft skills to improve employability
    » Develop life skills and exposure to world of work to enhance ability to successfully engage in interviews and secure employment
    » Provide career guidance and opportunity identification to ensure appropriate career pathways are pursued
    » Help youth complete a “My Journey to Work” record, showcasing their training and development, and supporting efforts to secure employment or support

    What success will look like

    # youth demonstrating success in securing ongoing career and/or employment prospects, e.g further study, employment or the operation of reading club franchises

    Aim 3

    Build family & community literacy, and an active culture & love of reading throughout townships


    » Train RLs in the creation & operation of Community Reading Clubs, which are safe, educational & recreational spaces currently lacking in the townships
    » Subsidise the operation of the Reading Clubs, and monitor & mentor RLs in the effective administration & successful delivery of their activities
    » Provide reading and recreational activities to children and invite parents & caregivers to attend relevant workshops and presentations

    What success will look like

    Successful establishment of operational community literacy activity centres incl # children, parents, family, teachers and community members using them

  • Impact


    Enhancing the employability of unemployed youth through personal&professional development, as well as developing literacy & reading skills for primary learners are both enduring gains that provide sustainable benefits, improvement to quality of life & greater access to future opportunities for both target groups. The key indicator for learners is improvement in literacy skills. For RLs indicators include successful securing of future work/study opportunities & improvements of hard & soft skills.


    The primary risks are financial: youth need to earn an income in order to retain them in the RL programme. Next to the stipends, solutions include long-term support and partnerships with NGOs and the private sector, e.g. Lightsail; their online library has 1000s of (e-)books across topics and genres, which we will use in our Reading Clubs, making them high-quality and more income-generating for our RLs and therefore more sustainable. However, most parents are poor so the clubs remain low-cost


    All donors are encouraged to sign up to our newsletter and read our monthly blog posts reporting on our achievements. Furthermore, annual reports and customised donor reports are available upon request.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £100,563

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      Amount Heading Description
      £2,118 Program implementation support 5 holiday club weeks SLT managers + PMs: 1,059GBP & Programme staff travel/incidental costs: (1,059)
      £6,397 Development Training RLs Trainer (1059), Materials & costs (750), adhoc training sessions(3529) Reading Clubs Training (1059)
      £1,176 Parent/Community training x 3 per annum x 100 parents. Trainer (882) + Refreshments (294)
      £4,412 Reading Resources Literacy skills development books & games (1765), winter holiday take home book per child (2647)
      £27,177 Reading Leaders Stipends Holiday Club time: RL stipends (24,706) + Senior RL stipends (2,471)
      £28,775 LightSail Partnership LightSail education training for all RLs (15,500) + Licenses for 1,500 children (13,275)
      £3,530 Communications Social media / Marketing / Campaigns: (2,118) + Communications / Newsletters, leaflets etc.: (1,412)
      £26,978 Admin, M&E, Overheads & others M&E (3,529); Administration (8,119);Overheads (5,977); Prog. admin(882); Transport+meals Clubs(8471)
  • Background


    This funding is needed for running Reading Clubs in some of the fastest growing & poorest communities in the country: the townships Mbekweni, Alexandra, Wemmershoek, Diepsloot & Khayelitsha, areas with vastly under-resourced and overcrowded schools where youth have little access to opportunity; the average age of a first-time job for township women is 29, youth unemployment rate is 67%, & there is little infrastructure nor libraries supporting the development of literacy and a culture of reading


    Our main beneficiaries are the circa 100 township youth that are trained and deployed as Reading Leaders and the learners they reach in the After School and Holiday Reading Clubs. Also benefiting are educators, parents & community members to whom the clubs provide access to safe, educational &recreational facilities that build literacy and increase the potential for educational achievement, as well as access to information sessions and workshops on how to engage their children in reading at home

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have 12 years of experience providing literacy skills development & reading help to more than 17,500 children from disadvantaged communities. Independent results show an increase of 14.4 months in reading levels after 7 months of contact time. Our RL programme has adapted to the specific needs & constraints of township communities and has already given over 200 youth access to opportunity whilst also building the skills of children: a powerful example of asset-based community development.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Mandy Trevor

    Mandy is the Operations Director who will ensure the overall effective implementation of the programme

    Smangele Mathebula

    Smangele is Regional Programme Manager for Gauteng who makes sure RLs are properly equipped and able to impact the lives of the children positively .

    Melody Volmink

    Western Cape Relationship Coordinator who ensures that the interests of all participants are served & that RLs are supported in performing effectively

    Mlungisi Mfekhetho

    Mlungisi is a previous Reading Leader who now is an Area Coordinator who provides support to trainee RLs ensuring smooth operation of the programmes.