Unemployed matrics to assist foundation phase learners with literacy

The Y4L programme trains unemployed matriculants as reading partners for learners in grades 2 and 3.

The launch took place at the Zonnebloem Boys Primary School Hall, District Six, on Thursday.

Shine Literacy seeks to create a culture of reading in schools, homes, workplaces and communities, in an effort to ameliorate literacy outcomes among young children from low-income communities.

“Central to the mission, vision and ethos of Shine Literacy is the core principle of creating a culture of reading and we believe it is an essential component in transforming the future of South Africa’s young and disadvantaged children.

“It’s through effective literacy programmes that we will be able to break what can seem like the endless cycle of poverty,” Shine Literacy’s Vulyelwa Mbalekwa said.

“We have, since January, 23 young people who are working in 11 schools in the Grade 3 classes. As of this past Monday, we upped that through YearBeyond NGO support or stipends and we now have an additional 66 young people in Grade 2 and Grade 3 supporting literacy.”

Shine Literacy also trains teaching assistants from schools under the Presidential Youth Employment initiative as reading partners.

“The only task of these reading partners is to engage in a paired reading session with every child and engage in a shared reading session with the whole class on a daily basis,” Mbalekwa said.

The initiative is an attempt to mitigate the literacy crisis facing the country. Shine Literacy said more than half (58%) of Grade 4 learners cannot read fluently and with comprehension in any national language, resulting in 29% of children still being functionally illiterate. Grade repetition is also high during the foundation stage.

“In order for us to properly equip our young children with the tools to positively impact, not only their lives, but our lives and the broader community which they come from, our literacy programmes are essential to that.

“Without reading, we cannot have anyone doing anything. They cannot do mathematics or sciences, which we all want them to do,” Mbalekwa said.

This year, Shine Literacy is assisting 22 schools across Cape Town where 130 unemployed youth are trained to offer reading support to children in grade 2 and 3 classrooms.

Welwitschia Primary School reading partner Sisipho Mfengu said: “My experience as a reading partner, I believe, has given me an insight into the 8 to 9-year-old children. I have learnt how they behave, how to treat them and, more importantly, how to show love to them.

“I believe that I have also grown and this has given me the love of reading and how to create a reading culture for ourselves and the little ones as well.”

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