Literacy Project Background
Children being educated in some of the schools in the townships located across Durban are in large class sizes (between 60 and 70 learners per class) and the schools are very under-resourced. Due to these circumstances many children are failing to learn the basic skills of reading and writing. All children have to write their exams in English, therefore the children need to be learning English from a young age and at the same time their mother-tongue needs to be valued.
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Soul Action South Africa began to work with Indlela, an NPO working into schools in Amaoti a large informal settlement of approximately 100,000 people to the North of Durban. Although Indlela teach a successful Life-Skills programme in Amaoti, their Life-Skills team had begun to identify low levels of literacy as an obstacle to the success of their programme. The teaching of Life Skills to school aged children is an effective pre-emptive way of addressing the HIV and Aids pandemic in communities that are grappling with the affects of poverty. In addition to this, the ability to read and write and to be able to communicate is another key skill that will help people to have a positive future. Our Literacy Project is therefore one of many responses that we feel is required in order to address the huge impact HIV and Aids is having on individuals and communities in KwaZulu Natal.
The Literacy Project began in Amaoti 3 school in February 2009 by teaching two groups of learners who were struggling to read and write once a week, and ‘team-teaching’ a class of 69 children with one of the school’s teachers. The progress achieved by these children was both exciting and encouraging; the teachers were pleased with the progress the learners had made.
Two local people were employed as educators. Kholiswa and Nompumelelo began to work as educators in mid January; initially they received training and made resources that would be needed in school. By February 2010 the two educators were working at the school four mornings a week implementing the programme and teaching a total of 188 children, under Rachel Bowyer’s supervision and guidance.
The educators work in the school with classes and their teacher, and groups of children, initially four mornings a week. One morning a week is for any necessary training, planning and preparation. Throughout the time working with the class teacher, the emphasis is on the teacher developing the skills needed in order to teach the children English, so the education workers and teachers team teach.
The learners are informally assessed on a daily basis and at the end of each term a formal assessment takes place. All assessment informs and supports future planning. We aim to involve the older learners in their assessments by discussing with them what they have achieved and by deciding on targets for the following term. We believe that the children need to have a level of ownership as this will help with motivation and in turn develop self esteem.
The project has been developed and is being managed by Rachel Bowyer, an experienced teacher who holds an Honours degree as well as a qualification to teach adults and children with Specific Learning Difficulties.
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