It is hard to believe that another year has passed. 2015 has been a year where FLP have worked to further improve our practice and deepen the impact that we are having within our communities. The Facilitators and Coordinators have worked more closely within local Government structures, such a Reference Committees, liaising closely with other NGO’s, municipalities, SAPS, Department of Social Welfare and traditional leaders. Our work has expanded to include 1 new library at Kwa-Pitela, new Nal’ibali Reading Clubs and additional bereavement counselling groups, Homework Clubs in 10 Crèches and Schools as well as the Asifunde Sonke ECD Teacher’s Training Centre’s first group of graduates.
Below is a list of the other highlights:
- Homework Clubs: The Department of Arts and Culture continues to provide invaluable support to FLP for the 5 FLP Libraries that we established and run in the rural areas of KZN. Their support expanded in 2015 to include Homework Clubs where FLP Facilitators, Coordinators and Library Assistants now include these Homework Clubs in their daily programme in addition to the other groups that they run. These Clubs are based around fun reading activities, with reading aloud, dramatization and art activities forming the basis of each of the sessions. In addition, children that do not have parents, caregivers or siblings to assist them with their homework, for various reasons, have an opportunity to sit in a group with a trained FLP staff member who assists them with this, after the reading activities. Mrs Cheryl Taylor, a special needs Educator, provides academic support and training for the Facilitators to meet the needs of the children in these groups. We have seen that this intervention has increased the number of children and adults from the community that visit the libraries. In addition, the feedback that we have received from the Schools has been encouraging and has definitely developed stronger ties with the schools and communities.
- Dlalanathi Bereavement Groups: The continued Support of the Solon Foundation and Children’s Chance for Life allow, Xolani Mofokeng, Nompumelelo Mbokazi, Sanele Ngubo and Zinhle Mbanjwa to continue to work with numerous traumatised groups. We work with groups of 8 children at a time, identified by the schools and communities, over an 8 week period. We still find, unfortunately, that we are unable to meet all of the needs simultaneously due to the sheer volume of children requiring intervention. We continue to receive positive feedback from families, schools and communities where we work. We have also noticed that many of the behavioural challenges experienced with these children, along with the resultant academic issues, are often seen to be overcome by the children after the intervention. This has resulted in Schools requesting permanent FLP Bereavement Groups being run at their schools in order to assist with the troubled children. Unfortunately the demands are so great, and the trained FLP staff so limited, that this cannot currently be implemented. It does, however, give us as FLP something to strive towards.
- Children’s Chance for Life: Congratulations to Phumla Ngcobo, a CCFL bursary beneficiary that has completed her Journalism Degree at Rhodes last year and has been working as an intern at Plexus Films in Cape Town and Dumisani Kheswa who completed his N6 and continues to excel in his studies towards his Diesel Engineering Diploma. The Graduates at Asifunde Sonke that are supported by CCFL, have all passed and graduated with the National Diploma in Early Childhood Development (ECD). The various students at schools and colleges also progressed well.
- Valley Trust Family Literacy Training: Phumy Zikode and Nomvula Phoswa continue to provide training and support for our partners, Valley Trust in Botha’s Hill just outside Durban. Valley Trust approached FLP to assist them to develop Family Literacy Groups, using the model we use, in various sites in the rural sites that they serve outside Durban. Phumy and Nomvula have travelled regularly to meet and train the Valley Trust Facilitators and monitor and evaluate their progress.
- Nal’ibali: The Reading Clubs continue to be vibrant and interactive groups of children that meet with the FLP Facilitators. The groups are encouraged to develop a love of reading and to share their experiences with each other and community members – many younger and often much older than themselves. This enthusiasm to share is nurtured by the FLP Facilitators using a variety of methods to bring to life the various stories that they tell as primers to the sessions.
- The new FLP Kwabhidla Community Library: We have run into a delay with this project as the Ingonyama Trust that oversee the property on which the new FLP Library is to be built, traditionally awards short term lases and then will extend these once building has been completed. This is a cause for concern with our funders as they question the security of a 3 year lease. I recently met with a delegation of Kwabhidla community members, the Headmaster of the Vusindaba School and the Ingonyama Trust in order to attempt to secure a longer lease. The Trust has been very accommodating and awaits a letter from the funder committing to the project should the 99 year lease be granted by Ingonyama. As this whole project has been so delayed, we will have to re-budget due to building costs having soared. We are extremely grateful to the Daitz Foundation and Project Build for their continued support in this initiative. We are optimistic that construction of FLP’s newest Community Library will begin in 2016.
- School Support Programme: Nompies Mbokazi, Sanele Ngubo and Zinhle Mbanjwa provide much support to the children in the respective Schools where they are working. Nompies, a Grade 1 Educator at Goxhill farm School runs Nal’ibali Clubs, a huge Box Library, a Homework Club all emphasising the development of sound reading skills. The children that progress from her Grade 1 class are, in the words of the receiving Educators and Headmaster, “so very strong, are working much quicker….and they love reading”
- Zinhle and Sanele work in the Underberg School Mastery Unit, where they support reading and writing for additional language learners. In addition, they provides Psycho Social Support for students in the Hostel where they now both reside. This ensures that the children receive support that assists them to be healthy and happy.
- Staff Positon Charters and Individual Appraisals: In 2013, in order to continuously reflect upon our own practice, FLP embarked upon a journey where we hoped to shift staff beyond mere “Job Descriptions” that define what we expect of them, to a more intrinsically motivated “Position Charter” where they define excellence and expectations for their own personal growth within FLP, and in so doing encourage and foster growth in their FLP group members, adults and children alike. This Charter was personally crafted, under guidance over a 4 day period, emphasising the Key Performance Areas, Key objectives and Standards of Excellence they expected of themselves in order to meet the expectations that they have, that their co-workers have, that the organisation has and that their group members have of them in order to achieve relative “success” in their field. The follow up to this process has taken place monthly with Jill Frow, where she will meet with each staff member, chart their progress and coach them toward their aspirations that they have set for themselves in this “Position Charter”. In addition, the will meet with me and the other Coordinators, in order to keep on track and brainstorm changes necessary. In December, Jill, myself and the Coordinators, met with each staff member, in order to assess their year according to their Position Charter. It was an extremely rewarding, informative and remediative process. We are now beginning to see staff members proudly taking ownership of their “work” and constantly striving to improve through reflective practices. They are also gradually becoming much less threatened by this level of scrutiny and welcome suggestions and ask for help rather than feeling threatened due to shortcomings.
- UNESCO Windhoek “Inclusive and equitable Quality education and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all”: FLP was invited to present at the 2015 UNESCO, all Africa Quality Education Platform – Southern Africa Regional Workshop on Literacy in Windhoek on 5 and 6 October, 2015. The work that FLP does was recognised as valuable and FLP were asked to share our approach and programme with delegates from all over Africa and the rest of the world. It was encouraging to see the level of interest in our work. The plenary session was insightful and provided many ideas for other delegates and FLP. We were the only Family Literacy Project to share at the conference.
- Department of Arts and Culture – Library, Language, Archives and Museum Services Conference, 25 November: FLP was invited to present at the DAC Conference in Durban. We shared about our libraries, Box as well as Buildings. The emphasis of the presentation was on building a culture of reading and making it a shared and valuable pleasure. Emphasis was placed upon intergenerational reading and storytelling using various groups and reading campaigns that FLP runs continuously. It was a great honour for us to receive such positive feedback from delegates.
In closing, I would like to thank all of the supporters and friends that have taken an interest in our unique and extraordinary project. The year that I have spent at the helm of FLP, has been made so rewarding for myself and my fellow workers. May you have a blessed Festive Season.