August 2019.

Waterworks Primary School, with the support of Droogfontein Solar Power’s foundation phase literacy programme, is achieving great results and seems to be a step ahead. The school, situated in Riverton, Kimberley, is making great strides through its comprehensive literacy programme that tackles a number of issues, and seeing the academic outcomes already.

Kediletile Lettie Moswete, who has been a Grade 3 Reading Assistant for five years at Waterworks Primary, believes that being fully bilingual in Setswana and English has made a huge difference, as children learn more effectively in their home language.

“When I started at Waterworks, learners were underperforming horribly. Last year the marks had improved to the 60% range and now they are right up to 80% and over. Furthermore, learners are excelling at Setswana and enjoying school more, probably due to the great marks they are achieving,” enthused Kediletile.

The school has implemented Spell It’s “Learn Ready Literacy” programme that aims to bring spelling levels up to international standards and has an active afternoon reading club with reading assistants, additionally the school participated in a regional Spelling Bee competition for the third year. These are the three of the four pillars in the Droogfontein Solar Power foundation phase literacy programme, a collaborative programme with the Northern Cape Department of Education.

The programme echoes the Department of Basic Education’s announcement that primary school literacy programmes should include reading improvement programmes, quality teaching in home language literacy, English as a first additional language, reading clubs and even reading competitions. This is the message from Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga who announced eleven priorities that her department will focus on for the 2019 medium-term strategic framework.

Waterworks Primary School learners were assessed towards the end of last year, through the Schonell Test, a proven international standard assessment that indicates the appropriate spelling and reading age of a learner, on an individual basis. The results showed an improvement of 57% in the space of a year, demonstrating that over 75% of the learners are able to read at the appropriate age level, a phenomenal result. The programme is expected to continue to yield impressive results.

“Becoming a reading assistant made me realise just how important the ability of how to read and write is. I feel respected in my community for the work I am doing and know that as a reading assistant I am making a difference in the lives of individual children,” she added.

President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasised the importance of literacy in his recent State of the Nation Address, calling for the country to mobilise behind a massive reading campaign. He said, “If we are to ensure that within the next decade, every 10-year-old will be able to read for meaning, we will need to mobilise the entire nation behind a massive reading campaign. Early reading is the basic foundation that determines a child’s educational progress, through school, through higher education and into the workplace.”

The Reading Assistant Programme means that children are assisted individually or in small groups, according to their ability, paying particular attention to those who struggle.

“If a child is struggling, they often get stuck, but I can work with them and help them so that they don’t get left behind. I am able to build a relationship with learners and it has boosted my own confidence because I feel like I am making a difference,” explained Kediletile.

She concluded saying, “I love working with the children, and they teach me a lot at the same time. My son is 8 years old and I use what I am learning to help him, we read together and I can see big changes in him, his marks and his school confidence.”