Reading Day with UP, Sun Books and WLF

Reading Day to Encourage Children to Read More

The Reading Day event that took place at Confidence College in the Pretoria CBD on Friday, 15 October, was aimed at inspiring learners to read and add meaning to text in an interactive, fun, and creative way. This event was organized by our partner in South Africa, Dr. Mia le Roux (Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria), the board member of the Gauteng branch of the Literacy Association of South Africa (Litasa) in collaboration with Mrs Anélize van Eeden (principal of Confidence College) and Dr. Renata Eccles (fourth-year Speech-Language Pathology practical module coordinator in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, UP). Dr. Le Roux and Dr. Bernice Badal (English Department, UNISA, and chair of the Gauteng branch of Litasa), attended the event at the school and took part in the activities.

Reading Day with UP, Sun Books and WLF

 

The students of the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, UP, facilitated the activities with the grade RR to grade 7 classes. The events per class started with a song, a rhyme or a brief game focused on the story followed by the story being read. The learners then had the opportunity to do various fun educational activities relating to the different stories read.

Reading Day

The characters in the stories came alive amongst drawings, crowns, cowboy hats, hen- and goat masks, spiderwebs, and many more. In turn, the school came alive with splashes of color in different hues flashing by as busy feet, minds, ears, and hands moved to the rhythm and rhyme of the words making them come alive in a memorable way.

 The principal, Mrs. Van Eeden, said that “the atmosphere was loaded with excitement since the Monday prior to the actual event”. On Friday, she was wearing a story character dress with drawings made by herself and painted by the learners. The staff and learners dressed up in various costumes each relating to a specific story being read per class. Everybody involved felt that it was a highly successful event. Dr. Badal offered special thanks to the principal and staff “who showed us that growing up does not mean that we need to forget that learning is fun”. She continued to thank the students from the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, UP, who prepared and executed all the activities with passion and dedication.  She concluded by thanking the sponsors of the event, the World Literacy Foundation (WLF), Sun Books, and Tobias, saying that the Gauteng branch of Litasa is grateful to all the key players that made this day possible and hope that many similar events will take place in future.

 

Dr. Le Roux mentioned that fostering lifelong literacy is often forgotten in the drive to improve the literacy skills of Foundation Phase learners. However, the need to be competent readers never stops; in fact, it becomesReading aloud at the classroom more important as learners enter higher grades and the need for reading and understanding complex academic text increases. This event by the Gauteng branch of Litasa is therefore seen as the first of many, especially as the principal of the school expressed the hope that the Reading Day will be repeated on a yearly basis.

The students involved stated that one must never forget that literacy forms the foundation of academic success. They mentioned that participating in the Reading Day at Confidence College was a privilege and working with the learners was extremely exciting and rewarding. The final year Speech-Language Pathology students also conducted hearing screening on 33 children with the support of a Master’s audiology student. There are plans to conduct hearing screening on more children from Confidence College next year. This community engagement project allowed the students from the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, UP, to accumulate much needed practical hours. Dr. Eccles observed that the students had the opportunity to have fun within their professional training. She continued to say that the students “got a chance to remember the reason they do all this hard work and the difference they can make!”. 

Finally, Prof Jeannie van der Linde, head of the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at UP concluded with the following statement: “As a department, we strive to improve the literacy of our children to ensure that they have the capacity to excel academically. Book reading from an early age is one of the best ways of improving literacy abilities in young children. Fostering a love for reading is, therefore, the name of the game.” 

 

Credits:

University of Pretoria

Dr. Mia le Roux (Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria)

Dr. Renata Eccles (fourth-year Speech-Language Pathology practical module coordinator in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, UP)

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Disparity Between Ideal and Real Online Education

The emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic has brought new approaches but also new challenges to the world. Education systems have been affected and consequently are witnessing significant changes in their policies and methodologies.

The Online Education

UNESCO suggests different ways to alleviate the impact of Covid-19 on education, some of them are linked to technological platforms and the internet.

In some African countries, an introduction of online learning resources and strategies has allowed learning to continue. This approach seems ideal, considering the need for social distancing measures, however, there are challenges not yet addressed by governments hoping to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the education sector.

Access to the Internet

In 2018, a UN study published through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), showed that only half of the world population had access to the internet. For instance, in Africa, around 24% of the population use the internet (an increase from 2.1% in 2005).

Although access to the internet is increasing, there are many countries in Africa where a large percentage of the population is still offline. High prices, slow connections and weak infrastructure have been reported as the main problems and definitely limit the effectiveness of teaching and learning through online platforms.

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Teachers Training

An effective and inclusive implementation of online education must also consider factors such as learning resources and teacher training. There is vast inequality in the access to digital learning tools, including infrastructure, equipment and teacher’s preparedness.

But it’s not all bad news. The online teaching practices during the Covid-19 crisis are pushing the education sector for a technology upgrade and a positive system transformation that will endure into the future.

Sources

  • UN
  • UNESCO
  • ITU
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Education in Sub Saharan Africa

covid3The barriers of virtual teaching The COVID-19 outbreak has stopped the world in its tracks. It has unavoidably brought about a temporal lockdown of schools and colleges across the globe. As a result, a shifted focus on virtual teaching and learning has been an inevitable option for many educational institutions. Unfortunately, however, this path has not proven to be a panacea to the problem of disruptions in learning conditions but has instead, highlighted the educational inequity in the world. Students living in disadvantaged areas are faced with challenges such as lack of technological devices at home, limited or no internet connection, digital illiteracy, and electricity shortage.  According to the UNESCO, approximately 56 million of the world’s population live in areas that do not have access to a mobile network. Sub-Saharan Africa constitutes half of this population. 90 percent of students do not have household computers, while 82 percent are unable to get online.  

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The low-cost tech solution to education

The digital divide continues to widen in regions like Sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, there are more than 120 million children and students out of school in West and Central Africa and those in excluded areas cannot keep up with homeschooling. Online distant education is an adequate initiative for keeping students learning during COVID-19 pandemic but many youths and children in rural communities are lagging in technological advancement. Several bodies are working to investigate and explore new technological innovations that promote and facilitate online teaching and learning in rural areas. For instance, the World Literacy Foundation has developed the Sun Books App that is pre-loaded onto solar-powered tablets, allowing African youths and children who live in remote localities access to hundreds of eBooks, literacy activities, and videos without internet connection or electricity. This is a low-cost solution that will keep children in a disadvantaged condition at home learning during the school’s lockdown.

How can we help?

If e-Learning initiatives are going to be implemented in developing countries like those in Sub-Saharan Africa, there should be proper education policies supported by the right innovative learning/teaching tools and a solid educational infrastructure in place. At the moment, there are many non-profit organizations working day by day to mobilize resources to assist learners in low-income areas. Still, they have been unable to successfully accomplish their objectives due to a lack of financial and human resources. It is time to join forces and foster partnerships to complement the efforts of these organizations towards meeting the needs of students who are now at home susceptible to educational setbacks. With this, the goal of quality education would be attainable without any community, classroom, or individual falling behind. Help the World Literacy Foundation close the educational gap and promote educational equality for all.

Written by: Aduloju Favour.
Edited by: Jennifer Rennie – Blue Autumn Copy

Sources:

  • UNESCO
  • worldbank.org
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©Copyright Sun Books. All right reserved. An initiative by the World Literacy Foundation