Some time ago Masicorp were approached by Ann Salmon, an experienced reading teacher from the UK who lives in South Africa for six months of the year. Ann wanted to spend her time in South Africa productively and began tutoring small groups of struggling readers at Ukhanyo Primary School in Masiphumelele. Masicorp has helped to extend the program during the time that Ann is away and has brought a South African reading specialist, Jane Futter, on board. The program has become known as “Masifunde” or “Let’s Read”.
Like many sub-Saharan African countries, in South Africa the first few years of primary education is delivered in the pupil’s home language. In Masiphumelele this means students learn in isiXhosa until they reach grade 10 when the medium shifts to English. Prior to grade 10 all pupils will have been learning 1-3 hours per week of English but for those that have struggled to pick up the language the sudden transition to English can be a time of great difficulty. Sadly many struggling students drop out of education at this stage with severe repercussions for their future prospects. This is the group that Masifunde is providing help for.
Extra English tuition has been timetabled into the existing curriculum with the assistance of the school’s teachers. Ann and Jane have recruited a team of three experienced volunteers to help deliver the program and currently it reaches 120 students in grades 2 and 3.
The program has received a further boost with assistance from Wordworks. Wordworks is an NGO that was established in 2005 to support and improve the early language and literacy development of children in South Africa. Following a meeting with Jane earlier this year Wordworks have kindly agreed to donate two sets of their training materials to the program and recently visited the school to train Jane and her team of volunteers. After working primarily with English and Afrikaans medium schools, Ukhanyo will become the first isiXhosa medium school where their teaching materials have been used. Masifunde will start using Wordworks materials from October 2013 and the development represents an exciting step forward for both Masicorp and Wordworks.