In this project we work with 2 township schools: Hout Bay Primary School and Silikamva Highschool
Remedial lessons in English are particularly important at the Hout Bay Primary school. Although English is one of South Africa’s official languages, a lot of learners struggle with it. The learners often come from Xhosa-speaking backgrounds and only come in touch with English when they enter school. In order to support them in that process, we try to figure out their deficits in the English language and try to compensate them in our remedial lessons.
In groups of up to 7 learners of each class, we work with them on different aspects for about 30-45 minutes. Sometimes that consists of working on elemental ABC-tasks and games but also more complex grammar work.
Our day begins by collecting our learners of each class to start our lessons in our aftercare room. As the deficits of the learners are enormous, we often have to start off our lessons with a recap of basic skills. One has to detach oneself from European standards and be aware that small steps are the key here. What works best is when you teach the contents in a playful way, adjusted to the individual pace of the learners. By doing so, you can see the results of one’s work and you will see happy learners in your lessons.
The project manager for the projects at Hout Bay Primary School is Future Nyanhewe. Future is a teacher and mother of 3 children and a teacher by profession.
She watches over the morning and after care program. Future also waits in a restaurant to earn money, but working with children is her passion. We hope to be able to pay her a full position soon.
VRG (Virtual Reading Gym)
In the mornings we do not only work in small groups with the children, but also in individual supervision with individual students. Here we work with a computer program called VRG. A Capetonian Organization www.virtualreadinggym.co.za is managing the program and guiding us to teach the children in this really amazing way. You can buy accounts (R50 a month a child) for children to commit. The aim is to improve children’s English reading and text comprehension and to expand their vocabulary.
Every day we take the children out of class individually for about 30 minutes and work with them on the computer. The program is designed for children and easy to use.
In the program, each child has their own virtual city, which they embellish with every task they complete. The focus here is not on the flawless processing of tasks. Rather, errors are treated as something positive, they are dealt with intensively, and learning progress is shown directly.
The best thing about the program is the quick learning effect, which the program always shows as feedback, which inspires and motivates them.
Many children are at home alone after school because their parents work until the afternoon. To prevent the youngest from being left unattended for several hours, Ubuntu offers aftercare from around 1.30 p.m. to 4 p.m. for around 35 children from Monday to Thursday.
Just in time for the school gong, the first-class kids appear for the aftercare. Over time, however, the rest of the Ubuntu kids will roll in and the program can begin: card games like Halli Galli, drawing with crayons or simply playing football – the kids are excited about everything. And when you hear: “Teacher, can you help me with my homework?” the children are happy to be supported by our volunteers with their homework.
However, we also bring the talents of our volunteers into the program: Jarla e.g. taught Children’s yoga and our candidates for teaching at the university of Dortmund like to do educational games; the social work students at the university of Bochum do life skills training. When children have secrets or are sad and desperate, the staff listens. If there is an urgent need for a child to receive special support, for example if there was not enough time for the reading gym during the day, the employees take the time to do this.
In order to check attendance a “circle” is formed once a day. Then a few group games are played to strengthen group spirit among each other. Afterwards everyone goes back to work, be it “Hide or Seek” or dance to Xhosa music. “Pack up-time” is just before four, and when everyone has cleaned up diligently, our boys and girls are released with a small snack.
No matter what the children do in aftercare, they radiate an almost infectious joie de vivre every time. And that is exactly the purpose of the project: to give love and care and to take the children off the streets where they are in danger.