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Shining light on literacy

Posted : 19 September 2013
“IF a child does not learn to read he will not be able to read to learn.”

This is the motto of the Shine Centre, which has introduced its literacy programme to Port Elizabeth with the goal of strengthening the early literacy development of children and to encourage a love for reading and books.

The award-winning Cape Town-based organisation started the Port Elizabeth Shine chapter with the assistance of the Walmer Angels Project and Michael Jarvis, the mastermind behind the initiative. It will be run from Walmer Primary School.

Hour-long sessions twice a week will be led by trained volunteers for Grade 2 and 3 pupils. Most of these children are learning in English, which, for them, is a second or foreign language.

Pupils who have been identified as in need of literacy support will be paired up with a volunteer, who will read with them.

The programme ensures that children receive individual attention. Also, its participants’ experience is made fun and exciting.

Project manager Carrie Mashek said the Shine Centre was excited about opening its first Shine chapter in the Eastern Cape.

“The Shine Centre’s mission is to create a nation of readers and so we work closely with individuals and organisations, who, like us, are passionate about helping children learn to read.

“We help them [organisations and individuals] to set up their own Shine chapter [social franchise] and train them on how to implement the Shine Centre model.

“[We also] support them with literacy resources and conduct learner assessments. In this way we are reaching more children at schools and community centres around the country,” Mashek said.

The success of the Shine Centre model was evident at Preswitch Primary in Cape Town, where one of the first Shine centres was opened in 2009. Between 2008 and 2010, Shine saw a 14.8% improvement in literacy among Grade 3 pupils, and, in 2011 and last year, a growth of 25.9%.

Bringing a Shine chapter to Port Elizabeth came about after Jarvis sought a way of giving without expecting.

He had a conversation with a lifelong friend, now living in Cape Town, who had joined the Shine Centre.

Jarvis went to the Mother City to investigate further.

“I was convinced there was a huge opportunity to bring a really worthwhile project to Port Elizabeth. I have always been interested in and critical of our national education.

“This moment opened a new door for me to be part of the solution rather than the spectator shouting from the sidelines,” Jarvis said.

The programme is scheduled to go live from next January, but will be preceded by intense training for volunteers on methodology, scheduling contact sessions and selection of Grade 2s.

The Walmer Angels Project’s Glenda Brunette has also looked into a complementary homework programme.

For more, contact Jarvis on 083-445-3259.

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