About Shine Literacy

Context: Educational Crisis

South Africa’s literacy rates remain stubbornly low. Many children face multiple deprivations from birth, which directly impact on their ability to learn. These include poor nutrition, disease, violence and abuse and impoverished living conditions.


In South Africa, 78% of Grade Four children cannot read for meaning (PIRLS, 2016). International studies show that our results are worse than those even of other low-income African countries. Grade repetition is high during the Foundation Stage, with associated costs for children’s self-esteem and motivation to learn, and for the education system as a whole.

Shine Literacy’s programmes are helping to transform the prospects of some of South Africa’s most vulnerable children by breaking the destructive cycle of poor literacy, low educational attainment, wasted potential and poverty. We do this by providing structured English literacy support to children, providing storybooks and readers and empowering parents and caregivers through Family Literacy Workshops. We work in partnership with like-minded NGO’s, individuals and non-profit organisations (see here) to raise awareness and develop approaches that are appropriate and sustainable.


Find reports and interesting information. (click here)

Shine Board Members

Kehiloe Ntsekhe (Chairperson)

Graeme Auret (Treasurer)


Kathryn Torres (Honorary board member & co-founder)

Diana Turpin 

Lolo Mini 


In addition to the head office team of eight, we also currently have six Shine Centre Managers and several part-time trainers and field co-ordinators.


Dan Pink, in his book, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”, talks about success in the workplace being based on each team member having Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Founder and Executive Director, Maurita Weissenberg, believes that Shine Literacy’s success can be attributed to each team member being self-motivated, passionate about a shared vision and always willing to learn more.

Maurita Weissenberg


Founder and Executive Director


Maurita spent the first 25 years of her career as a primary school teacher in South Africa and London, working in both private and state schools. Maurita found that struggling to learn to read was an issue that affected many children, irrespective of their background or schooling. This motivated her to qualify as a remedial teacher in 1994.


As a result of her expertise, Maurita established the first Shine Centre at a primary school in Cape Town in 2000. By 2006, the literacy profile of the school had risen from 50% to 84% for Grade Three children, and from 48% to 78% for Grade Six children. In 2009, four new centres were established and after many enquiries from other individuals and organisations, Shine Literacy researched different models of social franchising. As a result, Shine Literacy now has 19 successful social franchises (Shine Chapters) running in four provinces.

Dawn Vuyelwa Mbalekwa


Programme Manager

Julie Fischer


Finance Manager


Claudia Stanfield


Social Franchise Manager


Pumza Marubelela


Communications and Stakeholder Manager

Trudy Coetzee


Social Franchise Co-ordinator


2006 – Maurita Weissenberg finalist in Woman of Worth

2008 – Reconciliation Award from the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation

2010 – Shine was one of 30 finalists selected from 89 countries for the prestigious WISE Awards

2012 – ‘Rising Star’ (Africa-Middle East) Award from the STARS Foundation

2013 – Outstanding Volunteer of the Year from SAIF awarded to Kathryn Torres

2013 – Silver Award from Impumelelo for Social Innovation


Each individual matters
Shine creates an environment which affirms a child’s importance.

Listen with respect and without interruption
The quality of our attention profoundly affects the quality of other people’s thinking.

Treat each other as thinking peers
We learn from one another, regardless of age or qualification.

Ease creates, urgency destroys
An environment that encourages children to work at their own pace facilitates learning.

Practice the art of appreciation
Be generous and genuine with praise and words of encouragement.