DBE and USAID host 2nd Forum to Address the Literacy Gap in the Country
The partnership between USAID and the DBE, through which the School Capacity and Innovation Programme (SCIP), aimed at addressing the literacy gap among 100 million children worldwide, is currently being implemented in South Africa. Education experts comprising officials from the Department of Basic Education (DBE), USAID, the ELMA Foundation and the J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation organised a two day forum to review the progress of the SCIP in public schools from 20-21 November 2014.
The aim of the SCIP is to improve primary grade reading outcomes by building teacher effectiveness and strengthening classroom and school management. SCIP supports local South African models or interventions that seek to improve learning outcomes with a focus on primary grade reading as a measure of performance. In addition to seeking initiatives that demonstrate innovation and impact, sustainability and scalability are key components of the SCIP.
The forum, which serves as a fundamental mechanism of interaction among education stakeholders, will be held annually to fast track the improvement of the literacy levels in public schools, particularly at primary school level. Four South African based Non-profit Organisations (Mindset Ukusiza, SiyaJabula SiyaKhula, Wordworks and Save the Children South Africa / Penreach and the Human Sciences Research Council remain the most reliable partners for implementing the SCIP with the assistance of principals and subject advisors.
During the opening session of the forum, DBE Deputy Director-General, Ms Vivienne Carelse, applauded those partners involved in the SCIP, expressing her confidence that the South African schooling system will now improve for the better.
The Director for the Teacher Development Unit, Mr Haroon Mahomed, stated that the SCIP will play a significant role in improving quality teaching and learning in the country. Mr Mahomed explained that, through the SCIP grant, Mindset, a technology non-profit organisation, is developing and distributing more than 30 hours of video material to boost teacher skills in language and reading, ranging from lesson planning to classroom management to samples of master teaching. All videos are filmed in real classrooms with real teachers and promote reflective learning and mentoring.
“The KaMhinga Literacy Project is a $1.5 million programme implemented by the non-profit organisation, siyaJabula siyaKhula (Zulu for “we grow together”). The project, based in remote areas in the north eastern Limpopo Province, concurrently trains community members to work directly with under-performing learners and provides mentoring and coaching for teachers. The project, which began in July 2012 and will end in June 2015, aims to sustainably achieve primary grade reading levels of 60% to improve literacy.
Save the Children South Africa / Penreach, which is operating in schools in Mpumalanga and the Free State, have created a joint model designed to simultaneously improve teacher effectiveness, school management and DBE reading delivery systems within the districts.
“Quality early learning experiences can play a significant role in closing the achievement gap for learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. The STELLAR programme builds the capacity of teaching professionals through training and the transferal of knowledge and skills. It also equips teaching professionals with the resources and materials required to teach effectively. The “training the trainer” method is employed to enable rapid replication. The project targets schools and trainers working with children from disadvantaged communities.”
“TARMII-FP is implemented by the Human Sciences Research Council running from July 2012 to June 2015 and will enable teachers to draw upon a database of thousands of reading activities and test items to generate assessments and homework exercises tailored for their students. The tool will allow teachers to record and analyse student results,” said Mr Mahomed. “The 2nd annual forum reflected on progress and lessons learnt thus far to improve the various interventions to support DBE priorities going forward,” he concluded.
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