Building a bridge from misery to hope with literacy programme

“If children cannot read, their chances of succeeding at school and afterwards are limited,” says Trevor Arosi, Economic Development Manager at Kouga Wind Farm.

Because of their belief in the value of literacy, KWF contracted the Institute of Training and Education for Capacity-building (ITEC) to provide a literacy support programme for the children in the Foundation Phase at Sandwater Primary School.

The programme has been running since mid-2019.

Carroll Warmberg, who is the MD at ITEC, says that they supply the school with a Literacy Kit and sets of first ‘fun’ readers. Over the years of their association with the school, the programme has also expanded to include a mathematics (numeracy) element to accommodate the intertwining of literacy and numeracy.

ITEC works closely with the Foundation Phase mentor teacher, Mariske Grebe, who explains that some of what the reading assistants do is to work “on phonics and word recognition” with the pupils.

She believes that the reading programme is a great idea. Small groups of pupils are taken out of the class at a time so that they can have focused attention.

“During this time, they read with the pupils and ask questions to test their comprehension,” Grebe says.

Initially, there was only one reading assistant, Antonise Nuwenhuis, but following on the success of the programme, she was joined in 2020 by Nicolette Matole.

Antonise believes “there is a huge improvement in their reading abilities and they have developed a lot of self-confidence.”

She says, “They are very eager when it comes to reading. The programme has been very helpful because it has shown them that reading and learning does not have to be formal; it can be fun, exciting and easy.”

Working with the Foundation Phase – Grades 1 to 3, Nicolette says they have a very active reading club.

“I always stress how important it is to be able to read and how it broadens one’s knowledge.”

She adds, “I make reading fun by using activities for them to interact with what they are reading and to give their own opinions.”

Parents have been encouraged to supervise the reading activities of their children, who “constantly want to take books home to read.” One of the mothers mentioned how much the reading programme was helping her child to understand Afrikaans. “The reading programme is a wonderful concept. It has improved their ability to read, understand and answer questions.”