| Feb 16, 2022
Covid Contingency Plan Becomes Our New Model to Teach Reading
Comparison between Pre-Pandemic and 2021 results
Edu Fun partners with Diepsloot Combined School (DCS) located in an economically disadvantaged informal settlement north of Johannesburg as well as other communities in the Alexandra Township, Rosettenville and rural Wakkerstroom.
Edu Fun is a volunteer led organisation and our mission is to improve English Literacy for Grade 2 and 3 learners at Diepsloot Combined School. English Literacy is essential for young learners to break the cycle of poverty, but we are also conscious that children need their basic needs met to be able to concentrate on their schoolwork as they won’t reach their full potential if they do not have a balanced diet, a school uniform, or their basic health in place. We therefore have partner projects that were created by Edu Fun volunteers who saw a need and took action to provide supplementary support to remove some of these barriers to education.
Whilst working with volunteers obviously keeps one’s costs down, the reality in challenging times, is that volunteers also have their personal crises and struggles and often have to prioritise their own families, jobs, health etc. which results in interruptions to all our programmes – especially over the last 2 years. Young children cannot afford to have a break in their learning or not have their basic needs met, however due to Covid-19 this has been the norm rather than the exception.
The pandemic has forced us to think differently and to re-imagine our delivery and we are confident that we have a winning formula and are excited that our alternative model, which has been tried and tested in 2021 will result in up to 400 Grade 2 and 3 learners receiving one-on-one or small group instruction when learning how to read in English during 2022.
We can no longer rely 100% on volunteers and therefore need funding to be able to contract unemployed youth to work on the project daily who will, in return learn a skill, earn a small stipend to be able to provide food for their families, prepare themselves for employment, and possibly save some money for their future studies.
THE Project and Potential Solution
Due to our collaboration with Yoga4Alex in 2021, a group of unemployed youth were seconded to our project and spent 2 days a week teaching reading in Diepsloot. Yoga4Alex had the huge investment of weekly transport fees whilst Edu Fun and Read for Africa conducted on-site training and mentoring in the Phono-Graphix Reading method and project management at no charge which turned out to be a win-win for both communities as these tutors were then able to replicate the project in their own communities.
We achieved very positive and encouraging results with an overal improvement of 438%. Our Grade 3 learners have made great progress during 2021 having had little to no schooling for the whole of 2020 and then only attending school 50% of the time in 2021 due to large classes needing to be split because of social distancing.
The overall results are in the first image.
The youth who were teaching reading earned a stipend while working towards their certification as Phono-Graphix Reading Therapists. The programme provided financial relief for unemployed youth, provided them with a skill that has resulted in over 400 children having regular literacy instruction on a weekly basis and they have also started to build up their own private clients with the intention of starting their own businesses teaching reading so that they can continue to earn an income in the new year as their one-year contract as community workers draws to an end.
This project came at a huge cost not only in terms of financial resources but also individual human resources where Edu Fun, Read for Africa and Yoga4Alex did whatever they could with what they had to ensure that the organisations’ common goal of improved Literacy in Diepsloot and Alexandra were met. Everyone pooled all their limited resources together and whilst the project was a success it is NOT sustainable or replicable without more funding and assistance.
We are now looking into how we can expand and further develop our current Covid adaptations to become a key model for all our projects where we rely more on local youth to teach reading daily rather than a weekly and sometimes adhoc volunteer programme.
This is obviously not something that we have had to budget for in the past due to being a 100% volunteer led.
We have received some funding to contract 10 local unemployed youth from Diepsloot to avoid paying high transport costs and to have the group working with children daily. However, we would ultimately like a team of 20 youth to be trained and received a stipend in order for us to reach more students.
2 youth will also be assigned to each of our partner projects to ensure that any child who needs a school uniform (used, mended or new), has health concerns such as poor eyesight, needs additional nutrition or other support receives it. The youth will therefore be an extension of our usual project co-ordinators / volunteers who are not able to come into Diepsloot as regularly but will provide a mentoring role to assist the youth in learning invaluable project management, budgeting, stock taking, marketing skills parallel to becoming Phono-Graphix reading therapists as they endeavour to become social entrepreneurs and continue to earn an income beyond this project.
We are still hopeful that some of our volunteers will return in 2022 and attend more regularly (virtually and/or Face2Face) to support this programme and teach reading as well as mentor some of the youth who we will be working with.
The cost per tutor in terms of their training as well as their monthly stipend over 9 months is approximately R33 000 for the year. ($2200 per tutor for the year which works out to less than $200 dollars per tutor per month which includes all their training, materials and stipend)
The long-term goal is to replicate the model in other schools in Diepsloot to keep producing smiles like the ones in the photos provided and to celebrate hundreds of children’s’ achievements at the end of each year.
We also want to keep training a new group of youth each year to multiply our impact and to create jobs for more and more youth who will continue to teach reading for years to come.
Some Grade 3 students receiving certificates
Tutors Receiving their Phono-Graphix Certification