Read to Rise


President Ramphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa reading Oaky and the Sun (Read to Rise NGO)

Read to Rise is a non-profit organisation committed to promoting youth literacy in schools in South Africa’s under-resourced communities. Founded in 2013 by husband and wife team, Athol Williams and Taryn Lock, this organisation operates entirely on the belief that children need to read in order to rise in their personal development and contribution to society.

Children who love reading, excel at school and go on to become constructive members in society.  It all starts with reading.   Read to Rise aims to address the disturbing reality that children in under-resourced communities are not reading as much as they require for their educational development.  Children in the foundation phase should be reading 40 books per year while these children are reading only 1 to 2 books per year.

The root causes of this low reading level are:

  1. Most children come from homes without books and have never owned a reading book;
  2. Most children do not have access to adequately-stocked libraries at their schools or in their communities;
  3. Most children are not inspired and motivated to read.

Read to Rise has designed the 3 components of their programme to directly address these root causes of poor reading levels.

In 2013, Read to Rise introduced their programme and efforts in Mitchells’ Plain and the 45 schools in this area.   Athol grew up in Westridge, Mitchell’s Plain, fully understanding the challenges facing children in this community.

In 2015, Read to Rise decided to extend their efforts to Soweto, namely 20 primary schools in Naledi and Zola.    The focus in Soweto is on serving Grade 3 and 4s.    Grade 3 and 4s are selected as these are the key preparation years for the government’s national assessments for literacy and numeracy which takes place in Grade 3.  Most learners are only taught English from Grade 3.   The 20 primary schools in Soweto, mainly in Naledi, have roughly 40 Grade 3 and 40 Grade 4 classes, serving 1,600 children.

This is an area with major socio-economic difficulties and many Quintile 1, 2 and 3 schools, which are the poorest schools where learners cannot afford to pay any fees.   Some parts of Soweto rank amongst the most impoverished areas in Johannesburg.

Read more about Read to Rise at
Support the initiative by sponsoring or buying a book at


“A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”

                                                                                                                 – Nelson Mandela

Read to Rise