Education boost for pupils

The new literacy centre at Lourier Primary in Retreat. The unit at Constantia Primary School will look similar.

A new mobile literacy centre will be opened at Constantia Primary School in time for the second term of school.

The Shine Literacy Centre is being set up with the help of The LifeMatters Foundation.

The Meadowridge-based foundation was established in 2002 to meet the need for counsellors in underprivileged schools.

The foundation trains local residents as literacy and numeracy volunteers.

LifeMatters is collaborating with the Shine Literacy Centre, an NGO that helps schoolchildren struggling with reading and writing.

According to the foundation’s Sharleen Haupt, teachers are often unable to give one-on-one attention in the classroom and this can be a problem in the foundation phase.

LifeMatters uses the Shine model to give pupils two hours of individualised tutoring twice a week.

More than 830 Grade 2 and 3 pupils at five schools had benefited from the literacy programme, with 65% improvement in their marks after six months of support, Ms Haupt said.

Lourier, Sweet Valley, Sullivan, Westlake and Steenberg primary schools are already part of the programme. Constantia Primary School will be the sixth and it will be the third school to have a mobile site. Westlake and Lourier primary schools also have mobile sites.

In December 2017, South Africa was shocked by the Progress International Reading and Literacy Study (PIRLS) results, which showed 78% of the country’s Grade 4s couldn’t read for meaning in any language.

South Africa ranked 50th out of 50 participating countries.

Constantia Primary principal Alastair Adams said the new literacy centre would be of great benefit to his pupils, most of whom were the children of farm workers and did not speak English as a first language.”We are excited about this new venture.This is definitely a dream coming true for our learners and staff as we are addressing the legacy of underdevelopment and tackling challenges of inequality and poverty.

“We simply don’t have the resources that many other schools have. We therefore seek to address the underlying reasons for poor educational outcomes.”

Ms Haupt said the school had not had space to accommodate the programme, but a funder had come to the rescue, donating money for a mobile classroom.

The programme will start with the Grade 2s and expand to include the Grade 3s the following year.

The programme at Constantia Primary will run on Monday and Wednesday mornings and focus on literacy first, later including numeracy and counselling. LifeMatters is looking for volunteers who will be available at least once a week. Ms Haupt said they would get training and be supported by staff. Volunteers need police clearance and should be over 16. Under-18s need adult supervision.

Visit call 021 712 0383 or email sharleen@lifematters for more information.