In a bid to tackle the alarming issue of reading proficiency among South African primary school students, a transformative initiative known as the Alex Literacy Programme has been launched in Alexandra. This initiative, hosted at the Phuthaditjaba-Qoqizizwe Centre, is a collaborative effort led by Pholoso M Foundation’s Pholoso Masinamela, with invaluable support from philanthropist Linda Twala’s daughter, Gcina Twala, co-founder of the Ntsika Ye Sizwesethu NPO, alongside her husband Thato Mokwebo.
The primary objective of the Alex Literacy Programme is to equip approximately 150 learners from Alexandra’s primary schools with the essential skills to become proficient readers. The catalyst for this initiative was a disconcerting private study that disclosed that a staggering 60% of Grade 4 learners in South African schools struggle with basic reading comprehension.
Gcina Twala, driven by her own experiences as a struggling reader in her youth, articulated her vision for the programme. She emphasised the importance of teaching children to read and fostering their comprehension abilities, ensuring they truly grasp the content they read.
The pilot programme is scheduled to run for three months, from now until December, during which the effectiveness of the initiative will be closely evaluated. The organisers aspire to establish a lasting legacy, envisioning the programme as an enduring endeavour rather than a one-time event.
Pholoso Masinamela, leading the initiative under the banner of the Pholoso M Foundation, will conduct literacy sessions every Saturday, engaging 150 children. Recognising that not all children excel academically, the programme incorporates art as an integral component to cater to diverse learning styles.
Additionally, the initiative aims to provide comprehensive support by offering meals and essential learning materials, including pens, pencils, exercise books, crayons, sharpeners, erasers, and T-shirts that the children will wear to their classes.
Masinamela intends to gauge the children’s reading abilities through assessment tests, allowing the organisers to tailor their approach to suit each child’s specific needs. Next year, the programme plans to extend its reach to Iphutheng Primary School and seek additional funding, leveraging the pilot project’s success to attract potential sponsors.
The Alex Literacy Programme is forging partnerships with organisations such as the Anglo-American Ambassadors for Good, Swaragano, and Phuthaditjaba Centre, with the aim of not only improving reading skills but also nurturing a sense of literacy that will benefit the children throughout their educational journey, from primary school to high school and beyond. The ultimate goal is to leave an enduring legacy of literacy and empowerment for the young learners of Alexandra.
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Photo: Supplied by Alex News