Ikamva Labantu's Language Programme continues to run three projects, namely the parents project, the language training project and thirdly the early identification and intervention project.
The parent project has focused on a group of caregivers from the Masikhulisane Educare. These caregivers were selected through the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Sector at Ikamva Labantu. The caregivers ranged in age between nineteen and seventy. The participants were mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, foster mothers and aunts. The focus of the group was directed towards changing the communicative environment of children through changing the experiences of caregivers. The premise for this project centered in promoting both the understanding that parents and carers are the primary teachers in a child’s life and that parenting through engaged and empathetic communication has a critical effect on the learning potential and emotional well-being of every child.
The Training program was offered to the staff at local pre-schools. The educators took time from their lunch time to work with the speech therapist. The course was six weeks in duration and covered speech, language and communicative development as well as developing skills in recognizing children with Special Educational Needs (SEN). The emphasis of the course was practical. Experiential learning technique were used to ensure that the participants consolidated their understanding through ‘hands on’ work with the children. Therefore each session was divided between theory and practical work in the classroom.
The third project concerns identifying children with disability through training the educators and community workers in pre-schools. These children need to be identified as early as possible if they are to receive the intervention required to improve their educational prospects. Research shows that this early identification and intervention in respect of SEN children is (i) essential within these pre-school years, and (ii) provides the best chance of educational success in the long term. Half of all intellectual development potential is established by the age of seven. This means that when a child reaches school-going age, he or she has been largely ‘set up’ to succeed or fail in the classroom. For children with obstacles to learning—SEN children—the risk of failure is particularly
To achieve this goal, the project equips workers in the local community with the skills needed to recognize SEN children and to make quick and effective referrals to appropriate professionals in the departments of Education and Health.