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.