A Boost for English Literacy in Masiphumelele

Masicorp is involved in several English literacy projects in Masiphumelele, which play a crucial role in promoting educational and business success for children and adults in the community. Children who live near or below the poverty line have much lower average reading scores than their peers. This lack of basic literacy skills is linked with academic failure, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, delinquency, unemployment, low productivity, and welfare dependence. Literacy problems extend into adult life where parents who cannot read tend to have children who struggle with reading, thus perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

We were recently delighted to receive a generous donation of 10,00miser0 Euro to assist the delivery of English literacy project from Misereor, the German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation. Misereor have assisted development projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America for over 50 years, but this is the first time they have worked in Masiphumelele. Masicorp will be using the funding to support five key literacy projects:

English…..Please! Now in its 4th year this project supports the children from Masiphumelele that attend school in Fish Hoek. For further details see our previous blog posts HERE.

Homework Club at Masi Library Volunteers provide homework help and workshops for primary school children of Masiphumelele.  Masicorp and the library support this worthwhile initiative.

Wordworks (WW) Literacy Programme This English literacy programme is designed to teach disadvantaged children a second language. Volunteers trained in WW methodology mainly come from the communities where programmes are based and operate out of the community library. Assessments are carried out every 6 months. Masicorp currently partly funds WW in Masiphumelele.

MasiFunde Reading Programme Masicorp set up an English Lab, run successfully and sustainably at Ukhanyo Primary School, where we promoting reading in English. For further details see our previous blog posts HERE.

Adult Literacy Programme Masicorp’s Adult Literacy Programme encourage adults to attend lessons once a week at the Library to improve their English Language Skills.  These lessons are attended by employed as well as unemployed community members.  In addition there are also optional reading sessions, where reading for enjoyment is encouraged.


Many thanks to Misereor for their grant to support these initiatives and we hope to work with them again in the future.

A New Classroom for Masifunde

Over the past month everyone at Ukhnayo Primary School has become used to seeing this bright shiny new classroom that has appeared on the school grounds.

Container classroom 2The container classroom was sourced by Masicorp following an incredibly generous donation from Ann Salmon – the founder of our Masifunde (Let’s Read) English programme. Ann only resides in South Africa for a short period of the year and hence will not yet have seen the new facility. However, we are pleased to report that it is getting lots of use and has become an invaluable addition to the school.

Jane reading with boyThe new classroom is used exclusively for Masifunde. Through the Masifunde programme the learners at Ukhnayo receive extra tuition in English that will enable them to better make the transition from teaching delivered in isiXhosa to English at Grade 10. For some children it literally is starting from scratch, and they must start by learning the alphabet. We are fortunate to have learning materials from the Wordworks programme to support the new learners. As the children become older and advance on to more detailed reading materials the Masifunde volunteers have had to download stories from the internet, which they have printed and laminated for the children to read. An unexpected bonus of Ann’s kind donation is that the exchange rate has left us with a small surplus that we can use to buy a series of proper storybooks that will be more appropriate for the older grades.

Kids readingMasifunde is a big project and we have a number of volunteers that give up one or two mornings a week (08.30 – 12.30) to help small groups of children (4-6 children) in half-hourly time slots. We always need more volunteers for this rewarding programme and if you live locally and feel you could give us your time please do consider getting in touch. No formal teaching experience is required and we will provide training and the use of teaching materials. And of course you will get to spend time in the smartest new classroom on the Ukhanyo School site.

You can contact Masicorp through our website contact page – please CLICK HERE

Masifunde – Let’s Read

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”.

readingLike 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.

What is Wordworks?

The children of Masiphumelele are generally not well prepared for learning how to read and write when they start formal schooling; their parents want to help, but often do not know how.

The children’s first school is the township school, where they are taught in their mother tongue, Xhosa, for the first three years. After that, they have to make the switch-over to English. The children who attend schools outside Masiphumelele face the task of learning to read and write in English, their second language, right from the start.

Help is needed! And it comes in the form of a wonderfully effective English literacy and language programme from Wordworks SA – the Early Literacy Programme. This highly effective and established programme helps establish good English language and literacy skills in our youngest students.Working with Wordworks