Department of Education and Droogfontein Solar Tackle Learning Challenges

The Reading Coach Programme, funded by Droogfontein Solar Power, was initiated by the Northern Cape Department of Education (NCDoE) and has proven to be a much needed intervention to generate a love for reading amongst primary school children.

Mr Basie Mathane, Director: GET Curriculum, Department of Education, Northern Cape stated “At the end of the Foundation Phase, learners have only a rudimentary grasp of the principles of reading and writing, making it very hard for learners to overcome this obstacle in later years, particularly in mathematics and science.”

Evidence suggests that a large number of South African learners have learning deficits early, apparent already in the lower grades and that this is the root cause of underperformance in later years. The route of these difficulties points to learners not mastering the elementary numeracy and literacy skills in the Foundation and Intermediate Phases, leading to them being precluded from further learning and engaging fully with the grade-appropriate curriculum.

The Reading Coach Programme seeks to intervene with the low levels of reading through the assistance of out-of-school youth in selected Foundation and Intermediate schools. The NCDoE remains committed to working in partnership with Droogfontein Solar Power to improve the reading abilities of our learners and enhance their opportunities to have a better chance of succeeding in life.

“We were pleased to welcome representatives from the Department of Education together with a group of reading coaches, as part our Economic Development Programme and our partnership with the Department of Education,” said Mpho Makhetha, Plant Manager of Droogfontein Solar Power.

This Reading Coach Programme has already been successfully implemented in all the primary schools in Riverton, Ritchie and Barkley West and has been running smoothly for the last two years. The focus is to improve literacy and numeracy levels of grade 1 to 3 learners by providing scheduled reading sessions in vernacular (isiXhosa and Afrikaans). The Programme incorporates a number of elements, namely employment opportunities, training and resources. In addition to this, schools receive donations of books.

“The Northern Cape Department of Education is encouraged by the role that Droogfontein Solar Power continues to play in working with the department to provide quality education to the most needy. The influence and impact of this partnership can only lay a strong foundation for improved learner outcomes in the participating schools,” added Mr Mathane.

Droogfontein Solar Power has provided jobs for 10 previously unemployed Matriculants from the area who now receive a stipend each month and are being provided with work experience which should hopefully improve their opportunities to get jobs in the future or go to University to study towards an education diploma. These Coaches run reading sessions with groups of up to 15 children at a time, although most of these groups are smaller so that each child gets individual attention.

The project is funded over a three year period and performance will be measured by the improvement of the Annual National Tests (ANA) written by the learners annually. Each participating school will get book grants over the three year period.