The difference between reading on-line and reading on paper for Grade 5 learners in
Gauteng was explored in a multiple case study when South Africa participated in ePIRLS
2016. The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) introduced a simulated
on-line reading assessment to their 2016 cycle. Due to various challenges of sampling and
implementation, the study is classified as a multiple case study. The study revealed some of
the problems South Africa faces in terms of Information and Communications Technology
(ICT) capacity in primary schools as well as conducting research using computer-based
assessments. Due to schools lacking ICT infrastructure as well as inaccurate information
regarding ICT capacity in schools, it was not possible to draw a random sample in Gauteng.
Schools from disadvantaged backgrounds, especially African language schools, was found
to be the most likely to lack ICT capacity. The study revealed that there was no significant
difference between reading on-line when compared to paper-based. But learners who had
more access to ICT resources were likely to read well both on-paper and on-line but this
may be due to other socio-economic factors.