“Ordinary workers from different townships want their children to have brighter futures and at the centre of that is you, you’re giving these children smiles and because of you, they see the possibility.”
So said the principal of Prestwich Primary School, Mahdi Samodien, to the volunteers of the Shine Literacy Centre, which is based on their premises.
The Shine volunteers gathered at the centre on Tuesday, September 4, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Shine Literacy in the province.
The programme is celebrating the improved literacy levels that they have continuously observed in their centres.
Mr Samodien said the Shine phenomenon and its operation had been amazing and the teachers were seeing the results in class.
Citing the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study report that was released last year, Mr Samodien said more than 80% of Grade 4 pupils cannot read.
“We’re fighting a battle that we haven’t given up and that’s why we are here and our school can never thank you enough for the work that you’re doing,” he told the volunteers.
The executive director of Shine Literacy, Maurita Weissenberg, said the Western Cape literacy results have improved by more than 30% since they started.
“We were awarded by the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation for helping, through volunteerism, foundation phase learners with literacy,” she said.
Ms Weissenberg said that showed that the centre was a good example of citizenship. She said the centre was a safe space for children and they know they are supported and heard.
An emotional Nicolene Strauss, a volunteer who has been part of Shine Literacy since its inception, said she did this for the pupils and she would continue to do so.
She said she’s worked with 20 pupils in 10 years and has learnt a lot not only from the initiative but from the children as well.
“There was a point where my pupils would guess the words and I’d encourage them to not guess and know that they are able to read and at the end of the year, one of them wrote me a letter and thanked me, saying he didn’t have to guess the words anymore,” she said.
Ms Strauss said the centre exists because of pupils. She said she always tries to affirm them to make sure they know how important they are.
The organisation has worked hard to refine the Shine Literacy Hour (SLH), which in 2017 provided 12 538 hours of literacy support to children in Grades 2 and 3 to strengthen their reading, writing and speaking skills at their six centres.