St Johns Primary, in the small town of De Aar, is one of ten schools in the Pixley ka Seme Municipal District that has an active literacy and numeracy support programme. This ongoing intervention, puts trained coaches in Grade 4 classrooms to assist learners and support teachers, which has become increasingly important considering the added pressure on the education system due to the ongoing disrupted school learning environment.
Joane de Bruyn, who joined the programme during 2020 as a Reading Coach, explains the value of the programme and it’s benefit to learners. “Not only do I help the children with their reading difficulties but also with writing and understanding how to process the reading material, which is provided by the class teacher assisting learners to broaden their understanding. I also try to expand their knowledge of the world through reading and hope that through this, they can not only improve their grades, but also develop a love for learning and school.”
Funded by De Aar Solar Power and implemented in partnership with the Northern Cape Department of Education, the programme also actively encourages the Coaches to take up the opportunity to study, by providing bursaries focused on the field of education.
Joane has taken up this opportunity and commenced her studies this year, working towards a Bachelor of Education, Foundation Phase, with the intention of graduating, with her teaching degree, in 2024.
“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, but circumstances held me back. This opportunity has meant that I can put my abilities to help children, many of them who come from my neighbourhood, to good use. It has also inspired me further, to finally be able to achieve my goal of becoming a teacher,” added Joane.
The impact of the school learning loss, directly caused by ongoing rotational attendance and school closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic over the last eighteen months, has further emphasised the importance of providing learners with assistance.
The impact of interrupted schooling has been highlighted by Yolandi Baartman, Department of Education representative in De Aar, who expressed her concerns around the reduced classroom time and hence, access to coaches.
De Aar Solar Power’s Literacy and Numeracy Programme comprises 15 Literacy and Numeracy Coaches across 11 schools in the communities of Hanover, Philipstown, De Aar and Britstown. It addresses key issues relating to foundation phase literacy and numeracy, which is supported by trained assistants.
The beneficiary schools include: Emthanjeni Primary School, Alpha Primary School, Willie Theron Primary School, Zingisani Primary School, Kareeville Primary School, Hanover Primary School, St. Johns Primary School, Hayes Primary School, Van Rensburg Primary School, Luvuyo Primary School.
The programme includes specialised training for each coach as well as an ongoing mentoring component.