We are an independent national literacy Non-Profit Organisation dedicated to improving literacy levels across the African continent. We promote mother tongue particularly African indigenous languages and work to improve the reading, writing, speaking as well as listening skills in disadvantaged communities. We promote early grade learning which includes Grade RR, Grade R and Grades 1 to 7. Our primary target are teachers, school management teams, parents and learners.


We provide professional development of teachers through training, coaching and mentoring. We also develop content to consolidate our interventions. We provide research and evidence-based programmes that demonstrate key components of early literacy.

Our specialties lie in the following disciplines:

  • African indigenous languages
  • English First Language
  • Materials development and
  • Research and development


The power of literacy lies in the enhanced capacity of people to make informed, rational and effective life choices. Research shows that literate people have a higher possibility of improved living standards; this means better self-esteem, better health, better job opportunities, higher wages and higher rates of success in achieving a comfortable standard of living for themselves and their families. It is evident that this has positive spin-offs for both community and country.

Mission and Vision

Our Vision

Towards a Literate Africa

Our Mission

  • To provide professional development of teachers in a cost effective manner, for improved learner attainment
  • To address literacy and language challenges through research
  • To provide professional development for Molteno’s staff
  • To embrace the use of technology in all Molteno’s work


Objectives/Goals Sustainability in the following areas:

  • Financial
  • Operational
  • Human Capital & Intellectual Capital
  • Infrastructure
  • Technology
  • Marketing


Our Values

  • Integrity
  • Professionalism
  • Transparency
  • Excellence


What is literacy?

Literacy is the ability to read, write, listen and speak with comprehension to ensure effective communication.

Why literacy?

The power of literacy lies in the enhanced capacity of people to make informed, rational and effective life choices. Research shows that literate people have a higher possibility of improved living standards; this means better self-esteem, better health, better job opportunities, higher wages and higher rates of success in achieving a comfortable standard of living for themselves and their families. It is evident that this has positive spin-offs for both community and country.

Other impacts of literacy

Reading stimulates the brain and develops the ability to learn and imagine. It encourages a wider world view, critical thinking and entrepreneurial skills. The learning of all other subjects is predicated on the ability to read, write, listen and comprehend. Literacy is essential for all children, and in the developing world it is even more critically important for the girl-child.

Literacy and the girl-child

Literate girls become informed women who make relevant decisions regarding their own reproductive health, and the health and welfare of their families, and who contribute to the improved living conditions of their communities. Literate women and their families can encourage an active, vibrant and financially achieving community that together erode the scourge of passivity, poverty, large families, general ill health, HIV/AIDS and food insecurity. When a girl is literate and educated, her whole family and her community are redeemed from socio-economic hardship though her influence on economic, social and human standards of living.

Literacy and developing nations like South Africa

Developing nations desperately need to encourage the growth of an informed, skilled and productive workforce, or face negative growth, entrenched poverty and unemployment for present and future generations. This critical growth at all levels can only be achieved when South Africa is a fully literate society.

Governance and Manangement

The Board

All Molteno governance structures are formalised, and regulations are set out in its constitution and charters. The structure is comprised of:

  • Board of Directors
  • Audit and Risk Management Committee
  • Human Resources Committee
  • Executive Committee

The Board of Directors is the top governance/management structure and consists of eight non-executive directors, the Patron, and the Chief Executive Officer as an Ex-Officio and Executive Director. The Chairperson of the Board of Directors is an independent non-executive director as per principle 2.16 of King III. Our patron is invited to attend board meetings as the public face of the organisation, and non-voting invitee. The Board of Directors meet four times a year. These meetings include three ordinary board meetings and the annual general meeting.


The Executive Committee comprises five senior managers and is headed by the Chief Executive Officer. The committee convenes bi-monthly, mainly to report on the activities of their respective units. Likewise each line manager holds meetings with their unit staff members on a regular basis.

Board Committees

The Audit and Risk Committee consists of three non-executive directors with a background in financial accounting. Both the Chief Executive Officer and the Finance Manager have a standing invitation to the audit and risk management committee meetings, but have no voting rights. The meetings convene three times a year.

Stakeholder Engagement

Molteno has identified stakeholder engagement as a priority for the success of the organisation. We nurture relationships with our valued stakeholders who contribute to the work we do. We engage and interact with them on a regular basis using a variety of different media, such as e-communication, newsletters, meetings, radio interviews, social media, press releases and various reports, including donor progress reports, and monitoring and evaluation reports.


Funders are our key stakeholders who enable us to drive our vision and mission statements. We ensure on-going interaction and use a variety of means to engage with them. We invite them to visit our project schools to assess our interventions, and to give feedback on the quality of our work.


The Department of Basic Education is Molteno’s primary stakeholder; they endorse our programmes and materials before implementation.


Molteno has partnered with various organisations that support our literacy work both locally and internationally; these include sister NGOs, local practitioners, and international educational institutions.

Beneficiaries (schools, i.e. learners and teachers)

Teacher training workshops take place each term, followed by classroom support that ensures effective implementation of the programme. Refresher workshops are conducted if knowledge and/or skills gaps are detected.

Board of Directors

At board and subcommittee meetings held three times a year the Board is informed of all operational developments. Additionally, the CEO consults with individual directors including the chairperson, for guidance and counselling. The Board’s focus is mainly on strategic issues and on the organisation’s finances.


Staff members are kept updated on organisational developments through an internal newsletter and regular unit meetings.


Molteno sends out regular press releases, including radio and television media.

Meet Our Team


UNESCO's Confucius International Literacy Prize

UNESCO’s Confucius International Literacy Prize In July 2014, Molteno was invited to apply for UNESCO’s Confucius International Literacy Prize under the theme Literacy and Sustainable Development. The prize recognizes the efforts of outstanding individuals and organisations from different sectors such as government and NGOs who provide literacy programmes to adults and out-of-school youth, particularly young women, in rural areas. In conjunction with our international partner, the International Literacy Institute affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, Molteno submitted a proposal on our Bridges to the Future Initiative (BFI) programme. From a total of 67 applicants, Molteno was announced as one of the winners and was invited to Bangladesh and China respectively to receive and celebrate the UNESCO Confucius Literacy Prize. The prize is sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Education, and it includes monetary award as well as a certificate and Confucius’ statue.

Reading Association of Uganda (RAU)

Reading Association of Uganda (RAU) almost a decade since Molteno last worked outside South Africa, we were approached by the Chairperson of International Development in Africa to facilitate a workshop for 40 teachers on early grade literacy in Kampala, Uganda, as hosted by the Reading Association of Uganda (RAU) and as part of their 2014 annual book week festival. The workshop aimed at equipping teachers with classroom strategies for teaching literacy in an African UPE environment. One of Molteno’s senior trainers travelled to Kampala to conduct the workshop sans compensation in the spirit of sharing knowledge and good literacy practice. RAU, the teachers’ union and the teachers who benefited from the workshop provided assurance that Molteno would be their service provider of choice for future teacher development in Uganda.

South African Institute for Distance Education (SAIDE)

South African Institute for Distance Education (Saide) During 2014, Molteno collaborated with SAIDE to develop and produce ten new stories for young readers in isiZulu, Sepedi and Kiswahili. These stories are featured on the African Storybook Project website. It is hoped that some of these stories will be adapted for inclusion in Molteno’s future development of Vula Bula Grade 2 readers. Molteno also played a prominent role in facilitating a story development workshop at the European Union/African Storybook Symposium held in June 2014.