A report by the auditor general on the Passenger Railways Agency of South Africa’s finances for 2014.
Through Miyela, a group of graduates who assist high school pupils as tutors, they decided to start a spelling competition - Spelling Bee SA.
Ntsako Mkhabela, director of Miyela, said the group was worried when the Annual National Assessment results came out last year.
Last year's Annual National Assessment shows that Grade 3 numeracy rates have declined from 35% to 28% and literacy rates have declined from 36% to 35%.
That means only one in three children in Grade 3 can read at the level required at that age.
"We thought it was a crisis. We wondered what would happen to matriculants seven or eight years from now. They would not be able to read adequately and that would lead to problems for education and the workforce. It would be a disaster if nothing gets done," Mkhabela said.
"We thought that we could do something other than tutoring them and making them sit in another class.
"The Spelling Bee will be fun and their parents can also be involved in helping them with preparations."
The Spelling Bee is open to children aged between nine and 14 and applications close on April 30.
Mkhabela said: "The first round of the competition will be in July and then we will have provincial levels.
"We have talked to the people who run the American Bee and people from Nigeria and Ghana and they said our preparations were on track.
"We now have about 100 children that have signed up and we hope to have 400. In 2013, we will have the first national Spelling Bee."
Parents who are interested in entering their children in the competition can call 082-588-0190 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org