help2read Literacy Tutors host holiday reading clubs and the children in Alexandra township just love them
05 July, 2017
South African literacy organisation, help2read, is helping youth creatively engage with the world of work whilst also providing critical literacy infrastructure and services to their communities in the Western Cape and Gauteng. By supporting its trained Literacy Tutors (“LTs”) establish safe, educational and recreational holiday reading clubs, help2read hopes to build essential community services supporting working parents whilst expanding the opportunities to learn and have fun for young primary school children.
We were delighted to see how popular the idea was when on the 3rd of July, 14 Literacy Tutors in Alexandra Township hosted the first two Holiday Reading Clubs at Ekukhanyisweni and Iphuteng Primary Schools in Alexandra with over 150 learners from Grade 1 to Grade 6 attending the first day of the week-long programme.
The holiday clubs have emerged out of help2read’s Literacy Tutor programme which has the dual goal of building the employability and skills of youth whilst providing reading help to struggling learners. Trained Literacy Tutors assist learners by providing dedicated one-on-one reading help and literacy skills development activities during term time. Recognising their significant potential to provide an important community service during holiday time, the LTs received additional training from various help2read partners to further develop the skills to engage learners in an enjoyable way and to strengthen their interest in and love of reading. Games, songs, playacting stories and collective reading of books go a long way to improve skills of comprehension and vocabulary.
Illiteracy is a major concern among primary school goers in South Africa. Recent research indicates that 58% of Grade 4 learners in South Africa cannot read for meaning, while 29% are completely illiterate. Being unable to read hinders children from learning, and as a result, they fall further and further behind at school. In under-resourced and overcrowded schools most especially, teachers are unable to provide the individual attention that struggling readers need to master basic literacy concepts and become confident fluent readers.
At the same time, of the many obstacles facing South Africa’s young people, unemployment and unemployability are perhaps the most pernicious. According to Statistics South Africa, youth aged 15 – 34 make up the bulk of the unemployed in South Africa. Two-thirds of youth do not have jobs, despite being willing, able and actively seeking employment. A lack of education, skills and previous work experience have also resulted in low levels of employability, which means that many of the jobs that are available are not suitable for youth.
Sadly, in under-resourced and impoverished communities most especially, this is exacerbated by a lack of community libraries or infrastructure that can provide safe, educational and recreational learning activities. This means when school is closed for the holidays, learners have few, if any, opportunities to engage in literacy activities with working parents battling to manage jobs and family care.
In the midst of these crippling challenges, our Literacy Tutor programme recognises the power and potential of our youth as a significant asset in and for our communities. Youth are agents of change who can make a significant headway in overcoming many of South Africa’s challenges. The programme trains unemployed youth to provide primary school learners with one-on-one reading help and literacy support in township schools. In the midst of scarce resources, crowded classrooms and ill-equipped teachers, our Literacy Tutors are making a tangible difference to literacy levels in schools, families and communities.
Now help2read’s Literacy Tutor-led Holiday Reading Clubs will provide a bridge that will enable learners to remain engaged with learning outside the classroom until school resumes. It also supports parents by providing safe, recreational and educational spaces for development.
“We are so grateful for the opportunity for our learners to have new experiences that reinforce their literacy.” said Mrs Vilakazi, the vice-principal for Iphuteng Primary School.
help2read is thankful for the willingness and support we have received from the schools to launch the programmes. We believe our Literacy Tutors have an enormous role to play and hope to see them leading long-term sustainable community literacy centres that will help address the significant literacy and educational crisis in South Africa and foster a love of reading in their communities. Youth
help2read is able to penetrate communities to achieve our desired objective of improving lives through literacy. The Holiday Reading Clubs are set to become a fixture during each set holiday and we have no doubt the number of learners’ impacted will continue to grow.
If you want to support a reading club, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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