International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Children’s Early Encounters with Literacy in Windhoek Urban Preprimary Schools in Namibia
Dr Job UazembuaHengari

This paper takes a socio-cultural approach as it analyze ways in which reading and writing is taught and learnt to define what counts as literacy in Windhoek urban preprimary schools in Namibia. The study explores data of a larger ethnographic-style research that followed three children in three Windhoek urban pre-and primary schools in Namibia. The writer examines their early encounters with literacy and the implications of these encounters for their later development as readers and writers in schools. As teachers and learners occupy the classroom as a social space, they engage each other in literacy events, during which literacy development is scaffolded and encouraged as a culturally valued activity. This paper presents a „slice‟ of that larger study that followed three preschool classrooms literacy encounters over a period of six months. The writer suggests that this “school literacy”, defines what counts as literacy, a specific kind of literacy that is planned and offered to learners in a classroom setting. In Windhoek urban preprimary settings, the „traditional‟ conception of literacy as a largely psychological ability – something true to do with our intellect, and thus a private possession – remains dominant. Literacy learning is taught as a mechanical activity by focusing on breaking the code rather than as sense-making and engagement. I argue that this approach helps learners to cope with early primary school curriculum while missing to lay the foundation necessary for literacy forms and practices demanded in later years of schooling.

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