Build­ing self worth

Grocott's Mail - - NEWS - By EMMA PARLABEAN

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est Progress in In­ter­na­tional Read­ing Lit­er­acy Study (PIRLS) re­port, early child­hood lit­er­acy rates re­main low, with 78% of Grade 4 pupils in South Africa un­able to read­ing for mean­ing (un­der­stand con­tent). This ul­ti­mately af­fects their self­es­teem and abil­ity progress fur­ther in their ed­u­ca­tion. The Inkwenkwezi So­ci­ety aims to im­ple­ment change through the use of pre­ven­ta­tive re­sources pro­vided by na­tional NGOS – such as Word­works and Shine, to en­hance the in­di­vid­ual strengths of pupils as well as pro­mote their men­tal well-be­ing and re­silience in schools around Gra­ham­stown.

The Inkwenkwezi So­ci­ety pro­vides in­di­vid­u­alised read­ing, writ­ing and speak­ing pro­grammes to chil­dren in Grade 1-3 at Ge­orge Dick­er­son, St Mary’s and Sa­muel Nt­siko from Mon­day to Thurs­day. Inkwenkwezi is a vol­un­teer-run or­gan­i­sa­tion. Each vol­un­teer is paired with one or two chil­dren. Chil­dren are in­cluded in the pro­gramme based on a needs as­sess­ment con­ducted by teach­ers at the part­ner schools. The vol­un­teers meet with their chil­dren once or twice a week for a year to help en­hance the child’s English lit­er­acy skills.

Inkwenkwezi so­ci­ety be­gan in 2010 and part­nered with Rhodes Uni­ver­sity Com­mu­nity En­gage­ment (RUCE) and an or­ga­ni­a­tion known as Project Read in 2011. Since its in­cep­tion, Inkwenkwezi has been a pop­u­lar so­ci­ety at Rhodes, with up to 100 mem­bers at its height! After a recent dip in membership, the So­ci­ety has been build­ing it­self up and deep­en­ing com­mu­nity ties with the hope of re­gain­ing membership and be­ing able to spread its reach to more schools as hap­pened pre­vi­ously.

All vol­un­teers are pro­vided with and trained to use the learn­ing ma­te­ri­als. The train­ing en­cour­ages the vol­un­teers to adapt the Words-works pro­grammes to cre­ate cre­ative and per­son­alised learn­ing pro­grammes for the chil­dren with whom they work. In this way, the so­ci­ety cre­ates a cre­ative learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment which fo­cuses on an en­hance­ment of each child’s strengths.

The pro­grammes cre­ated by Inkwenkwezi have had a pos­i­tive im­pact on each child’s en­thu­si­asm to­wards their ed­u­ca­tion. In ad­di­tion, at the end of a child’s pro­gramme, there is a notable dif­fer­ence in their self es­teem in that the stu­dents are more ca­pa­ble and con­fi­dent in read­ing, writ­ing and speak­ing in English. In ad­di­tion, the pro­gramme has had a pos­i­tive im­pact on each child’s sense of self worth as they feel they have role to play in the class­room and want to be there.

Inkwek­wezi thinks of this time as an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity to change its struc­ture to be­come more sus­tain­able, en­joy­able and ben­e­fi­cial to­wards both vol­un­teers and the Gra­ham­stown (Makhanda) pri­mary school pupils. The team has in­cluded many more vol­un­teers and fo­cused on mak­ing the so­ci­ety a friendly, fun and mean­ing­ful place for stu­dents to find com­mu­nity with like-minded and pas­sion­ate peo­ple.

As of 18 July Inkwenkwezi had 52 vol­un­teers. If you would like to be part of the so­ci­ety please email­ci­

• Emma Parlabean is the chair­per­son of the Inkwenkwezi So­ci­ety

Parlabean Photo: Emma

Stu­dents from Inkwenkwezi work on lit­er­acy pro­grammes for Gra­ham­stown chil­dren.

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