Creative Learners

Creative Learners
Learning Brief

Die Stigting vir Bemagtiging deur Afrikaans (SBA)

SBA's Home Reading programme

Category: Creative Learners | Reading Promotion | 31 July, 2012 - 18:35


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.
The following process steps were taken to ensure project success. In replicating this project or in serving as a case study for other implementers or policy developers; the following is important:
  • The appointing of an experienced and passionate Project Manager with strong organisational and inter-personal skills
  • The appointing of assistants to the Project Manager who are on-the-ground and who are able to operationally give continuous feedback and implement programme changes where necessary. 
  • Recruitment, contracting and training of facilitators who are able to fulfil the project objectives in a dedicated manner and who are seen as ambassadors for the cause in the various communities in which they operate. 
  • Appropriate training materials and books need to be chosen based on their suitability for the different age groups in consultation with experts in the field (such as the WCED and publishers)
  • Community and parent buy –in to the project is essential for the project’s the long term success. If the programme is to succeed in inculcating a love for reading and in changing behaviour with regards to reading it is essential that all stakeholders are motivated and engaged in the process. 
  • The active support of other NGOs, churches and schools is needed to share learnings, best practices and further to reinforce the community’s goodwill towards the project. 
  • Utilising proven Project Methodology and detailed planning framework (which arose from a pilot study)
  • Continues process monitoring and improvement to ensure the project maintains high quality output, remains relevant and is sustainable in the long term. 
  • Keeping stakeholders updated 
Future Improvement Steps and suggestions
  • Future project scope should extend beyond home reading to also include crèches
  • Whilst the training of the facilitators went very well, the following improvements could be borne in mind for future projects:
  • Longer duration of training.  Adding an extra day for practical exercises and understanding learning aids that accompany the stories would improve the way in which the learners experience the classes


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