In general it can be stated that the art of storytelling is gradually disappearing in light of the proliferation and popularity of electronic media; specifically television, computer games, cell phones and the Internet. These media have become the primary sources of entertainment for young children and are the only methods in which applied learning is taught. The highly visual nature of the content is the major reason for its wide acceptance and adoption.
While technology and new media channels have greatly improved some learning initiatives, the negative impact has meant that young children have shorter attention spans and that constant visual stimulation is needed to achieve learning. Lack of imagination and interpretation skills are also side-effects with children’s ability to creatively think and express themselves being stifled.
The socio-economic situation of our target audience particularly, and their parents, leave very little room for buying and reading books or even newspapers and magazines. In essence, no real reading habits are being reinforced by the parents as they themselves do not read. Reading bedtime and other stories for entertainment is not the norm and children are the poorer for it since they never learn to develop a love and passion for reading.
Stigting vir Bemagtiging deur Afrikaans (SBA)'s Impact
The SBA has the benefit of having piloted and refined the children’s reading program that included 1025 children from January 2011 to October 2011, preceding the DG Murray Trust funding. The practical lessons learnt and the impact on the children with feedback from the facilitators, schools, parents and the children were overwhelming positive. As a result the SBA was granted part funding for the project by the Dagbreek Trust to continue the project. The additional DG Murray funding capacitated the SBA to accelerate the program reaching ever larger number of children spanning a larger geographical area.
The Cape Flats and Paarl areas were specifically chosen as the target audience as these children are totally deprived of storytelling in any form combined with very high level of illiteracy and substantial reading and writing problems in schools.
Most of the facilitators were chosen by the SBA Project Manager as a result of them having undergone a year long SBA sponsored training course in Early Childhood Development. They are therefore apropriately equipped to assist in young children’s development. Significant effort was also expended informing the communities about the program to create interest in the project and press advertisements and editorial articles were published. In addition current SBA projects were used as communication vehicles to communicate and inform parents of the reading project.
These combined factors will greatly impact the local situation by proving the access and opportunity to meet with our combined project objectives being – To create a culture of story telling and reading for enjoyment with strong involvement of the parents and other stakeholders.
The SBA is of the opinion that the project can be regionalised in the Western Cape Province as the Project Methodology and Best Practises will be well proven by 2012 year end. The project has the ability to be up-scaled and rolled out to a larger geographical spread with the help of additional funding.The project already has an strong identity and being branded as the Zoe Reading Program with the associated historical and future press coverage can be developed to have significant brand value for both the SBA and the DG Murray and Dagbreek Trusts being associated as the funding partners.
Although the need for such a program is national the SBA believes a national project will only need to be planned for the 2014 budget planning cycle.
Our implementation so far
The objective of the program strategy is to create a culture of story telling and reading for enjoyment with the strong involvement of the parents.
So far the project has been initiated and has: a full compliment of facilitators, and two project assistants deployed, Project Administration and finance system are in place and functional, all project materials and teaching aids were procured and were distributed to facilitators and a Project Manager has a project risk management and continuity plan in place. Training was also completed.