A big Thank You to the Bitou 10 Foundation & Volunteering SA (VSA)
Volunteering SA (VSA) was established in June 2014 to address the educational needs of primary schools in the more disadvantaged communities in Plettenberg, Western Cape, South Africa.
The Reading and English Programme for all the Grade 3 children
Children attending both primary schools in Kwanokuthula are taught to read and write in their mother tongue, isiXhosa, from Grade 1 to Grade 3. However, from Grade 4 onwards the medium of instruction is English. This poses a major challenge for children who have not been exposed to English at home or within their community. The transition to English, without this foundation, is often a barrier to further learning.
Our Reading and English Programme is based on and inspired by The Shine Centre in Cape Town. This programme has shown that the literacy levels of children experiencing difficulty with reading can be dramatically improved when they are provided with individual support by trained volunteers.
The Reading and English Programme started in January 2015 at Phakamisani Primary School in a renovated building funded by the Zoe Carss Education Trust. When the new school, Kwanokuthula Primary School, opened in January 2016, additional funds were raised to set up an identical programme there. More volunteers received training and a new facilitator was employed. Each week 160 children are taught at the centres and over the year all 344 Grade 3 children have attended, with the weaker children having the chance to stay in the programme for 2 or 3 terms.
The programme incorporates paired reading, phonics, writing, conversation and shared reading using our own Library books. The learners attend the programme twice a week for 30 minutes and work on a one to one or two to one basis. Progress is monitored with termly diagnostic assessments.
Each term about 76 volunteers give their time to help these Grade 3 children achieve age appropriate literacy skills to be able to access the curriculum in Grade 4. The volunteers give a minimum of one and a half hours per week, but many offer more time and come twice a week. They are very enthusiastic about the programme, love working with the children and are so excited to see the progress of those which they have helped. The volunteers are a very important part of this programme as with individual tuition, each child can work at his or her own level.
The Reading and English Programme is largely funded by the Zoe Carss Education Trust which is based in London. Other donors include Charities Unlimited, Beacon Isle Hotel, Hunter Hotels and many very generous Plett residents. We are so grateful for their support.
Monica is employed by the Bitou 10 Foundation and her 9 year old daughter joined the programme a year ago. In the following video Monica explains how the program has benefited her daughter so far: