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.


International Literacy Day

In celebration of International Literacy Day, the national office of LITASA visited an ECD centre of the Philile Foundation in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. Catherine Langsford read the story ‘Oola the Owl who lost her hoot’ by Sarah Phillips to a group of enthusiastic pre-schoolers. Carien Wilsenach spoke to the children about books in different languages, showed the children some books in African languages and explained that LITASA will leave books in isiZulu and Sesotho for them, which they can read with their teachers. LITASA donated story books, a bilingual children’s dictionary, a South African alphabet book as well as literacy games and puzzles to the foundation. Carien and Catherine enjoyed some quality time with the children and teachers, showing them how to use the various games and reading some more books. The morning ended all too soon – it was a privilege to spend some time at the foundation!

Pan-African Literacy for All Conference

The Pan-African Literacy for All Conference was held in Kampala, Uganda from 20 to 22 August. The theme was Literacy: A Bridge to Equity. The conference centered around issues of gender, inclusion, access to and contextualisation of materials, youth empowerment, parental and community engagement, teacher development, mother tongue language and instruction, and use of ICTs. Delegates learned that equity has many faces and must be considered in a wide range of contexts. Practical responses to our common problems across Africa were called for. It was a well-organised conference with a wide range of presentations from across Africa. The social events were a real highlight. Huge congratulations must go to the Reading Association of Uganda for hosting an excellent conference. Thanks also to ILA and IDC-A for the support they provided. Well done to all the South African presenters - you made us proud. We look forward to seeing everyone again in Zambia in 2021!

National Conference 2019

The 9th Annual LITASA Conference took place at the University of Cape Town from the 12 th to the 14 th of July. The conference theme was Masifunde Ditale: Literacy and Language in a Multilingual World. Over the weekend delegates were engaged in presentations and discussions that enriched their understanding of multilingualism. During the opening ceremony, the Conference Chairperson, Catherine Kell, reminded us of the importance of indigenous languages and the value of treating multilingualism as an asset. This sentiment was echoed throughout the conference as speakers highlighted the reality of South African students, the majority of whom are multilingual. It was a pleasure engaging with the youth from Kwafuka Vulindlela Reading Club in a panel discussion, during which the learners spoke about the importance of knowing how to read in both English and isiXhosa. This allowed conference delegates to put a face to some of the issues that were to be explored throughout the conference. Presenters discussed the importance of their research and explored a variety of topics ranging from translation, to the development of cognitive linguistic skills, to the production and use of materials in the indigenous languages of South Africa. Delegates were able to engage with current research and could relate it back to their own work. Workshops were held that explored different aspects of multilingualism and brought to life the work that is being done both through research and within classrooms and other learning sights. Our keynote speakers, Leketi Makalela and Brian Ramadiro, allowed us to think deeply about multilingual literacy education in a rapidly changing world and futures of literacy in African languages, respectively. The conference was an enriching experience that offered delegates the opportunity to connect with one another and engage in a meaningful way.

World Read Aloud Day

Rizana Hoosen from Pinetown Senior Primary and the KZN Branch of LITASA partnered with the local library to celebrate WORLD READ ALOUD DAY. Writers Kripa Devar and Cristy Zinnspoke spoke to learners about their books and the importance of reading. The learners were enthralled when Zamo Hadebe did a reading of the story “A Boy Who Cried Wolf.” The writers kindly donated their books to the school for learners to enjoy.

Rizana Hoosen (far left) and learners from Pinetown Senior Primary with writers Kripa Devar and Cristy Zinnspoke

We are excited to announce the theme of our 2019 conference: “Masifunde ditale”: Literacy and language in a multilingual world. The conference will be hosted by the Western Cape Branch and takes place 12-14 July at the University of Cape Town. Abstracts for papers, workshops, posters and colloquia are due by 1 March. We call for contributions that:

  • recognise and acknowledge the language resources learners and teachers bring with them to their literacy learning and teaching

  • challenge the dominant monolingual approach as well as the deficit positioning of learners

  • provide examples of practice which build on and are successfully working with learners’ and teachers’ own linguistic and cultural resources.

Visit the conference page for more information.

We started 2019 on a high note with one of our own, Nangamso Mtsatse, being honoured as one of the International Literacy Association's Top 30 Under 30 literacy champions in the world. Nangamso is the first South African ever to receive this honour. Congratulations Nangamso, we are proud of you! To read more about Nangamso’s achievement, and about the work of the other 29 literacy champions, download the cover story from the ILA’s Literacy Today magazine.

ILA’s Literacy Today download

Happy 2019! We hope you had an excellent holiday period and a good rest. There is much literacy work to be done this year. Our branches will be holding their AGMs in early February, details of which will follow or you can check the relevant branch page for more info. Our conference is a little earlier this year, 12-14 July, and will be held at UCT in Cape Town. You probably have received the call for papers which we recently emailed out. If not, please download it from the conference page or email us and we will get it to you asap. Also, abstracts for the conference are due by 1 March so get yours in soon. We look forward to seeing you online and at our events during the year.

The response to the conference has been overwhelming this year! We are so looking forward to welcoming everyone to Port Elizabeth next month, especially those joining us from elsewhere in Africa and further abroad. Prof. Topping will be joining us as a keynote speaker and he is sure to add something special to the event. Thanks again to our many sponsors who have made the conference possible. We couldn't do it without you! Due to the high number of delegates, we will have to close registration on 14 September, so be sure to get your registration in as soon as possible. Payments are also due by that day. See the conference page for more information.

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.

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!

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.

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!

2019 - 2018 NEWS

Volunteers from the LITASA Gauteng branch, in collaboration with BRIDGE, celebrated International Literacy Day with learners at Booysens Primary School in Pretoria. Volunteers read the book ‘The Gruffalo’ to six Grade 1 classes, while the Afrikaans translation of the book, ‘Die Goorgomgaai’, was read to one Grade 1 class. Each class teacher received an International Literacy Day book bag with copies of ‘The Gruffalo’, Wordworks board games and some additional books for the classroom library. Thank you to our partner BRIDGE who also provided volunteers and book donations. In total 245 learners, 7 teachers and 9 volunteers benefitted from the event.

The Gauteng branch of LITASA met on 31 May for a discussion on multilingual literature at the University not Johannesburg's Auckland Park Campus. The discussion, which was themed "telling stories in one's own language", had attendees engaged on the importance of language and its role in cognitive development and overall academic achievement. Oral storytelling, language policy, translation, teaching practice, and reading strategies were other issues that were touched on.

Ayanda Xaba and Tumelo Moleleki, both multilingual authors, shared experiences on writing their books and how they were received by different audiences. Both Ayanda's The Maiden and the Bear and Tumelo's Her Heart series are poignant examples of how language is used to transmit culture. Their storylines deal with experiences that may not be understood by someone outside the Zulu or Sotho culture, yet when they are contextualised these stories make way for empathy and a greater understanding of each other's backgrounds. To hear stories in one's language is to affirm your existence within a broader world.

The Gauteng branch hosted an interesting seminar conducted by Prof Deirdre Byrne, Ms Soorie Naidoo and Dr Gerhard Genis. Prof Byrne and colleagues spoke about their involvement in the South African Poetry project (ZAPP-IKS). Their project sought to understand how poetry was being taught in FET classrooms, and what they could do to work with learners and teachers to revitalise poetry teaching. People in attendance were quick to begin a lively conversation about the project after their presentation. The workshop ended with a lucky draw. Three people won a bag and one person won a bag and R250 Exclusive Books voucher.

Annual General Meeting

On 7 February 2019, the Gauteng branch hosted their Annual General Meeting which was followed by a seminar from the South African Poetry Project team from UNISA. The AGM was run by Helen Cronje, the outgoing chairperson. Helen provided an overview of the branch’s 2018 activities before moving to the new committee elections. Unfortunately, Helen was not able to continue as Chairperson in 2019. The following individuals were elected as members of the Gauteng committee:

  • Interim Chairperson: Maxine Schaefer

  • Treasurer: Maxine Schaefer

  • Secretary: Tumelo Motaung

  • Additional members: Morena Maoka, Mpho Maje, Rockie Sibanda, Coba-Maryn Wilsenach and Michael Makwela.

We are very excited for the year ahead.

From left to right: Morena Maoka, Mpho Maje, Maxine Schaefer, Rockie Sibanda, Coba-Maryn Wilsenach and Tumelo Motaung (not in picture: Micahel Makwela)

Revitalising Poetry Workshop

The South African Poetry Project (ZAPP-IKS) will be presenting a workshop on the work that they do in South African schools, as well as providing practical insights as to how you can make poetry come to life for your learners. The workshop will be interactive and there will be time to work with the other workshop attendees and ask questions. The workshop will be presented by academics and poets and therefore can appeal to a wide audience.

Intended audience:

  • high school language teachers
  • academics who work with high school learners
  • NGO partners who work with high school learners
  1. Date: Thursday, 7 February
  2. Time: 14:30 – 16:30
  3. Venue: Room 94, Floor 8, Theo van Wyk Building, UNISA Muckleneuk Campus

Don't miss out!

Send your RSVP or questions to Maxine Schaefer at litasagauteng@gmail.com

International Literacy Day Event

LITASA and Fundza celebrated international literacy day on 14 September at OLICO Maths Education in Diepsloot, Johannesburg with an author visit, reading and signing from Morena Maoka. The day was supported by nine LITASA members, author Morena Maoka, OLICO staff and forty Grade 7 to 9 learners from OLICO Maths Education. The LITASA volunteers ran two pre-reading activities in the first half of the afternoon and we ended off with a captivating reading by Morena from his short story “Salted”. Learners each received a copy of the anthology “Songbird and other stories”. What fun we had!

Back row (left to right):
Maxine Schaefer (LITASA Gauteng Treasurer), Nthabiseng Malefane, Karabelo Mosupeng, Gontse Mthimkhulu, Pretty Matodzi, Morena Maoka (Fundza author), Agreement Mphephu, Gordon Magajana, Lutho Malgas
Front row (left to right):
Karabo Mosupeng, Khumo Mabutha
Morena Maoka reading his favorite chapter from “Salted” while the OLICO learners follow along in their books.

Thank you from OLICO literacy (attached)

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.