North Glen News
A version of the following article first appeared in the North Glen News in February 2010. The distressing disparity between the results achieved by rural and urban schools in the 2009 National Senior Certificate has provoked a good deal of debate, with the result that a decision has been taken at national level to return to an educational focus founded on literacy and numeracy. The proof of the wisdom of this policy can be seen in the classrooms of Amaoti 3 School, where Soul Action are heading up a literacy project that is causing great excitement among both staff and learners. The aim of the project is twofold: to equip the teachers to teach the children to read and write in English through modeling, team-teaching, developing appropriate resources, and lesson plans; and to empower the children to reach their full potential by learning to read and write in English. Rachel, an experienced teacher who holds an Honours degree in Music and Mathematics as well as a qualification to teach adults and children with Specific Learning Difficulties, moved with her family from the UK to Durban in 2007. “We felt called to explore how we might use our time, skills and experience to benefit the poor and marginalized in some way,” explains Rachel simply. Last year Rachel began to work with Durban-North based NGO Indlela, which was already working into two schools in the informal settlement of Amaoti, teaching a very successful Life-Skills programme. The Life-Skills team had identified low levels of literacy as an obstacle to the success of the programme and Rachel developed a programme to address this need, travelling to Amaoti 3 school once a week to teach two groups of learners who were struggling as well as to ‘team-teach’ a class of 69 children with one of the school’s teachers. The progress achieved by these children was both exciting and encouraging. As a result of money donated by delegates attending Soul Survivor’s 2009 festivals Rachel has been able to broaden the scope of the literacy project by employing two local people, who work at the school four mornings a week implementing the programme under her supervision and guidance. When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon he said: “One small step for man; one giant step for mankind.” Indlela’s literacy project is a small step but all those involved believe that it will enable the children of Amaoti to take a giant step into a better future. ‘ Soul Action South Africa’s Rachel Bowyer with our first two local edudcation workers, Kholiswa and Nompumelelo.