Director’s Update

Much has happened at FLP since the last report from my desk.  It continues to inspire me and the entire FLP Team to see the commitment to Literacy from our rural communities.  The Families continue to share information and skills that they have gained in our FLP Group Sessions with their neighbours, thereby inspiring their surrounding Community Members to visit our Libraries and encourage their children to attend Home Visiting Sessions and join our Book Clubs.

Below is a list of some of the highlights:

  1. Asessment of the Philangethemba Molweni Community –Florence Molefe and Jill Frow recently assessed the 12 Molweni Community ladies and Community Members that we have been training and supporting in the Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting Programme. The Assessment “Workshops” were very well supported.

The findings of this very successful intervention are being written up and will be made available on our website.

It has been encouraging to see how the Molweni Community has grasped the Khulisa model and made it their own by adapting it to their unique circumstances, but still ensuring that the integrity of the evidence-based intervention remains.

  1. Internship Programme– The FLP Internship Programme has been very busy with Specialist Training from Autism South Africa for a week in “Early Identification, Early Intervention Strategies”, Curriculum Development Project Arts and Culture Education and Training for a week in the “Creative Approach to Using African Music in ECD Programmes” where each attendee was supplied with a Marimba set that is being used extensively in sites and ongoing in-service training in approaches to diagnosing and assisting struggling readers/Learners through Plasticine Play, Lego Blocks, Toe by Toe Reading Intervention, Word Works Educational Games, use of the African Storybook Project Reading books developed for Foundation Phase Readers and other strategies that have proven to be successful in assisting Learners reach their potential. The Interns work with children in Grade R to 3 to assist them to remediate developmental lags and, with Jacqueline and Snoxolo, to identify areas that need attention early on and intervene to assist academic progress. We are working closely with St Appolinaris Hospital Therapists, Pholela Special Needs School and other rural schools to identify, train and develop parents and staff to be better prepared to assist and work with learners with special educational needs.
  2. “Enter Another World – Reach Out and Read” Pilot Programme –The African Storybook Project books, many of which FLP staff developed and authored, are printed in beautiful colour and now form part of our Home Visiting Programme, Library Stock and Reading Programmes in Goxhill, Camanga and Underberg School. Once the print run is complete, the books will be in all FLP sites, Schools where we run Reading Programmes and in homes visited as part of the Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting Programme.  The FLP sewing ladies are busy completing the “Hanging Libraries” to adorn the walls of the beautiful huts.   These 76, brand new Foundation Phase Zulu titles, have been very well received.  Children and adults alike are reading them.  It is exciting that FLP Staff and Learners have been able to contribute to the national stock of Zulu children’s books where there is such a great need for local language books to keep first language readers inspired and excited to read!
  1. Community Stories – “The Power of Strong” In keeping with the FLP goal of valuing and recording traditional stories and fireside tales, Jill Frow, Florence Molefe and Zimbili Dlamini recently conducted sessions at Lotheni, where there is a highly regarded Gogo that comes and regales all with her stories at FLP Special Days.  She has been such an inspiration, that many a pre-school learner is confident enough to stand up and tell stories to groups in the Lotheni Community.  Jill recorded the sessions and Zimbili is going to be writing the Tales up to be included on the African Storybook Website – the Young Pre-schooler is busy with her illustrations which we hope to include as part of the book.

We are collecting autobiographies from all FLP Interns, with the aim of one day publishing these to inspire others to set goals for themselves that will stretch them beyond circumstances and comfort zones.

  1. Protective Behaviours– The FLP Interns and Staff attended the Protective Behaviours, International Training Hosted by FLP. Hilda O’Callaghan, an ex-South African currently practicing in Australia has developed the material and is an internationally respected Trainer in this very important field. This work forms a very important part of our training – for FLP Staff, Group Members and Community Members.  We are passionate about ensuring that our Communities are made aware of the many dangers facing young children from their birth. As a result of this advocacy, we have had many parents approaching us to intervene as a result of incidents that they were aware of, but did not realise the seriousness and possible long-term impact that these could have if they are not addressed early on.

FLP is committed to providing safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children.  We realise that this requires changing attitudes, behaviors, norms, and policies. We know that even if our Committed FLP facilitators, Educators in the Schools, Homes Visited and Community Leaders are motivated to create this kind of change, we will only see significant results when the idea garners the support of the larger community and its leaders. Thus, at FLP, our efforts to prevent child maltreatment (CM) and promote safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments in our communities requires both community and social commitment. FLP Coordinators and Staff sit on various Tribal Councils, War Rooms, Municipality Forums and Reference Committees to get this message across to the broadest audience possible.

This commitment does not stop at awareness, but moves along a continuum from awareness of the problems to solutions. When raising awareness is mentioned, many organizations’ default to very basic information such as stating that child maltreatment (CM) is a problem and that it is bad for children. Most people already know and accept these facts. What we emphasis as critical at FLP in this step, is communicating something that we hope will bring new supporters into the fold. We understand that to do this, we will need to continue to strive to do this in a way that our community members, leaders, and decision-makers both understand and value.

(Research has shown that the consequences of CM can last a lifetime and include negative impacts on social, emotional and physicalhealth. We can reduce the leading causes of illness and death in our community by assuring safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for our children.) 

Asifunde Sonke – Teacher’s Training College. Student portfolios are complete and the entire Fourth intake of students is awaiting results once their portfolios are returned from Wits.  It is inspiring to note that there have been over 98 Students that have been trained at the College from as far afield as the Eastern Cape!

At Asifunde Sonke we are committed to ensuring quality delivery of a  tried and tested, Nationally Certified Academic Programme.  In addition, we mentor the students, by placing them into Noah’s Ark and Underberg Mastery Unit, on a full-time basis where they work as teaching aides, paired with Educators that have vast experience in their respective fields.  This mentoring ensures that once they graduate, they carry not only an Academic skillset, but a social skillset that empowers them to enter a classroom confidently, having learnt from experts in the field!

  1. Visitors
  • Sarah Rennie – Grindrod Family Centenary Trust
  • Hilda O’Callaghan – Protective Behaviors Foundation Australia;
  • Uwe Cohrs and Gustav Achtermann – Be Your Own Hero Foundation Germany;
  • Nora Muehling – Office of the Mayor of Wolfsburg;
  • Angela Pillay and Anton Krone – Save Act;
  • Andrew Pitt – Clouds of Hope;
  • Leigh Lippert – Klanderhoek Children’s Home;
  • Darin Marais – Australia
  1. Thank you

Thank you to all the friends of FLP.  Your advice, support and visits are what keep us inspired and motivated to carry on so passionately.  It is great to know that we enjoy such wonderful body of support from all over the planet!

Pierre Horn

The FLP Team begun 2018 determined to build literacy levels and instil a love of reading, as a shared and valuable pleasure, within their communities.  The final Team Week of 2017, saw the Team conducting evaluation activities of the programmes that we offer.  What we have developed, are a set of guidelines that will inform our approach in 2018.  Reflection activities continue to inform the FLP approach towards achieving the Project’s broad goals.  It has been an inspiration to receive feedback from the FLP sites, Householders and community members as to the progress made toward realising these goals.IMG-20180216-WA0025  Below is a list of some of the highlights:

  1. “Foot in the Door Career Programme” – A perennial issue facing SA youth, is what career to pursue, with many learners being misguided by their parents and teachers.

To assist FLP Groups and members of the broader community, FLP’s Career Model supports the child’s holistic development and education from early infancy through our Early Childhood Development Programme, throughout their school career, and up until the time they can be placed in work. As a project that works in the deep rural areas of KZN, we are faced with a unique set of challenges and constraints, this commitment to the full lifespan of the youth is, in our opinion, the best and most reasonable solution.  In South Africa, 3.4 million young people don’t have jobs, aren’t in school and aren’t getting a proper education – the Department of Basic Education (DBE) stats show that only 10% of children who start school end up matriculating, with the Grade 10 dropout rate currently sitting at 44.6%. With no income or education, they are likely to be poor and unemployed for the rest of their lives.

Career guidance remains a poorly developed competence amongst the SA youth.  As a result, most young people want to rush head-long to enrol at university, unaware of other possible career choices or vocational training opportunities.   The FLP Career Counselling Team consisting of Xolani, Snoxolo and Jacqueline offer a Career Guidance Service to the youth in areas where FLP operates.  We educate the Grade 9’s about careers on offer at the various institutions in SA.  We guide them in their Learning Area choices for Grade 10 and then, in Grade 11 and 12, conduct Aptitude/Career Assessments with them.  We assist the Learners to apply for entrance to Tertiary Institutions, apply for bursaries and access financial aid. Many graduates struggle to find employment post degree completion, whereas, learners who followed a specific vocation, do much better at securing gainful employment coupled with valuable work experience.  Critically, young people need to enter careers they are passionate about. Studies have shown that being in a career you are well suited to, promotes individual happiness, while ensuring longevity in that role.

In 2017, the FLP Programme assisted Students to register for suitable careers, according to their aptitude assessments, at Cedara Agricultural College, UNISA, Asifunde Sonke Teacher’s Training Centre, University of Pretoria, UKZN, Msunduzi, Plessislaer and Mzimkulu FET Colleges.  This is addition to the Education and Tourism/Hospitality Interns being Trained by approved Partner Organisations – Noah’s Ark, Underberg Mastery Unit and Sani Lodge.

  1. Philangethemba Molweni Community – FLP trains and supports 12 ladies from Molweni Community for the Khulisa Abantwana Home Visiting Programme.  This initiative is a partnership between FLP and St Agnes Church, which has developed a Community Centre in Molweni.  Workshops are very well supported, with prospective Home Visitors excitedly receiving their bags, containing their Educational toys and Books, and venturing off into their community to commence their ECD Home Visits.  It was encouraging to see that the African Storybook Project books, that FLP produced, piloted and translated, form part of the pack of books that would accompany the Home Visitors into the homes they would begin visiting regularly.

The project is reaching the stage where Jill Frow and Florence Molefe will conduct an assessment to inform and guide us in the planning and implementation of Khulisa 1 and possibly the training in Khulisa 2 material should the assessment call for this.

  1. Internship Programme – FLP started this valuable programme over 3 years ago, to assist aspirant young ECD and Primary School Teachers in the FLP sites, to gain valuable in-service Teaching experience simultaneously to studying. Candidates that are selected as suitable, by FLP Group and Community Members, are then interviewed by FLP.  There are currently 10 Teaching Interns in Noah’s Ark and Underberg School.  They are required to perform all duties associated with Teaching and often will teach lessons, supervised by their Mentor Educators observing their practice.  They receive a stipend that covers their studies, transport, accommodation and travel expenses.  The students are encouraged to “pay it forward” once they graduate, by first offering their skill set acquired to their local rural, community schools.  In addition to the Teaching Internships, another area where there is great interest as well as employment opportunities, is in the Tourism Sector.  After receiving numerous requests from our groups to assist in this area, we are happy to have sourced training for Tourism Interns at a local Nationally Accredited Lodge.  We are currently conducting a Pilot Study where 2 Interns are being trained over the next 2 years.  We are currently exploring local Agricultural Training Opportunities for Interns in Underberg as this is an additional area where there is a call for Training.
  1. FLP Literacy Campaigns – To promote the FLP libraries and make communities feel at home and visit more often, we constantly run special days where we advertise events at the libraries where all are encouraged to visit and promote reading and storytelling. We hosted Home Visitors for a picnic where they met with FLP Coordinators and Facilitators to discuss their home visit, the families visited, the challenges faced and significant change that they have seen in the families that they visit.  Games get played, songs sung and ideas shared.  Other members of the community get invited to see what the programme does and thereby promote similar practices in their homes and communities.

The National Read Aloud Day was celebrated in the FLP sites, schools and Libraries.  Members of the community, teens and emergent readers all had an opportunity to read a Nali’bali story aloud, or if they were illiterate, to be read to.  Almost 4000 readers from FLP sites and surrounding schools, where we dispatched Reading Ambassadors, participated in this campaign.

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  1. “Enter Another World – Reach Out and Read” Pilot Programme – 5 FLP Teaching Interns, that have been trained by Shelley O’Carrol from Wordworks and the Underberg Mastery Unit, are working on foundation phase reading skills in 3 rural schools – Goxhill, Camanga and Underberg School. The Reading Programme aims to make reading fun and provide remediation to struggling readers.  A baseline assessment was conducted and monitoring is taking place.  We recently conducted the annual Reading Age Assessment of the Foundation Phase Learners and are excited to announce that learners reading ages range from chronological age to 3 years above their chronological age.  This intervention, where FLP Interns visit 3 days per week in each school, to work intensively with Learners, and then encourage them to actively participate in the required 2 days of personal reading, is developing the confidence and ability of readers in the schools.  We aim to promote reading as a leisure activity and not a punitive school practice.  This is done by using dramatization, read aloud sessions with questions and bright books in local languages.  The African Storybook Project Books are printed and form a big part of our corner libraries in these schools. A baseline Reading Age Analysis was conducted in January of 2017 and then in November of 2017.  It was encouraging to see that the majority of children were reading at their Chronological level and up to 2 years above  that.
  1. Library News:

FLP Kwabhidla Community LibraryFLP’s newest Library and community centre is completed and has opened for community use.  The beautiful building is located on a piece of property that FLP leases from the Ingonyama Trust, adjacent to the Vusindaba School.  The children are now able to read stimulating books and play with educationally appropriate toys outside of the classroom.  The Reading and Homework Clubs FLP runs in the community utilise the new FLP Community Library daily – we currently open 6 days a week for schools and community use – many books are being borrowed by the community and we anticipate that the Centre will become integral in building Literacy Levels in the area.

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NPC Slangspruit Library – Because of the work that FLP has done in partnership with Valley Trust and Philangethemba in Molweni we have been approached to partner in a new community centre that has been built by Project Build with funds donated by NPC.  There has been a request for Phumy to train and support the Library assistant to replicate the model that FLP has developed with our Community Libraries.

Ekelabantwana Library – The FLP Reading Clubs continue to be well attended with Rural Schools commenting on how much better FLP children perform at school.  At a recent School cluster meeting, where teachers were discussing ideas on how to improve their learners’ performance, the schools where FLP Facilitators work encouraged their peers to encourage reading and develop their libraries.  Enkelabantwana School Principal collected timber slats and commenced construction of a beautiful Library.  He has contacted FLP to assist with this initiative by training and running Reading Clubs in his School.  Phumy and Thola Mkhize, the Facilitator in the area, are running training sessions and have started Reading Clubs. We look forward to seeing Enkelabantwana School producing avid readers as result of their initiative!

  1. Sharing the work that we all do:
  1. Colorado Council of the International Reading Association Conference (CCIRA):

For the 50’th anniversary of CCIRA, FLP was invited to present on “Ingredients for Culturally Responsive Teaching”, as well “International Partnerships” and the benefit to Literacy Development.

It was a privilege for us to be invited to present with expert educators, in Denver Colorado.  The session was fully subscribed and valuable interaction ensued in the question and answer slot of the presentation.  It was good to have 2 Educators, Jan Killick and Judy Casey attend the conference as they have both worked with FLP in the past.

In Addition to this presentation, FLP shared about the community work we do, particularly through our Libraries and Reading Groups.   The Foreign Affiliate Grant was established by CCIRA to encourage the sharing of best practice between, amongst others, FLP and CCIRA experts.  I look forward to the training partnerships that we are currently working on with CCIRA.

  1. Massachusetts Reading Association (MRA) – Boston:

From Colorado, we travelled to Boston to present about FLP’s Community Libraries and the African Storybook Project (ASP).  It was a privilege to be hosted at Primary Source and present to members of MRA, Educators and Rotarians from Boston.  Judith Baker presented about ASP and the value of the work FLP has done in collecting, translating and motivating the writing of Zulu stories in our rural communities.  The stories produced and their use in the FLP Groups and Libraries aroused interest amongst attendees with many offering to assist with translating the stories into minority languages in the USA to be used in Schools there.  Frances Jefferies, a Rotarian from Boston, shared about the partnership that they have with FLP through MRA and the benefits that FLP derives from Rotary support.

  1. Children’s Chance for Life (CCFL) & Generation Joy Organisation – Seattle

FLP was invited to Present at schools in the Seattle School District with whom we have had a partnership for the past 13 years.  It was an inspiration to see the student led clubs working towards collecting resources for FLP and supporting our reading and literacy endeavours.

A presentation was done for Teeter International, as one of FLP’s major funders.  All staff were present and the CEO spoke about their contribution to development in SA and particularly the relationship to, and support of, FLP.

To refine our partnerships, thereby deepening the impact and broadening our reach, we have discussed future exchanges between CCFL, Generation Joy Foundation, the Seattle School District and FLP.  We hope to develop new approaches to engaging Learners in the USA to engaging fulfilling academic relationships with the Family Literacy Project Group members, Learners in our Programmes and the rural schools where we work. Rylie Teeter of CCFL has agreed to assist us in planning and developing a sustainable model to use.

 Visitors

  • Mzo Zuma – Department of Arts and Culture;
  • Curtis Betzler, Linda Guard, Ellen Steeves and Rob Tyrrell of the Gen Joy Foundation, USA;
  • Megan Kaminsky – Victor Daitz Foundation;
  • Suzanne Edmunds – Project Build;
  • Jim and Chris Newton – Edzimkulu Canada;
  • Fefekazi Mavuso and Kwanda Ndoda – DG Murray Trust;
  • Nikki Raw – Saville Foundation;
  • Cecily Salmon – Solon Foundation;
  • Erik Van den Top – Love Trust;
  • Angela Pillay and Anton Krone – Save Act;
  • Mzo Zuma and Karen Jansen Van Rensburg – DOAC
  • Sandy Burmeister – Teachers Learning Centre;
  • Mark Liptrot – Afripak Sustainability Manager;
  • Sheila Drew – African Storybook Project;
  • Charles Thompson – Warriors Academy;
  • Brian Nhleko – Department of Education;
  • Ngeneleni Mncwabe – Mayor of Kwa Sani Municipality
  1. Thank you

The FLP team members are the people that keep everything together – we certainly would never be able to meet our objectives without their committed, experienced approach that has been built up over the years. I also thank our funders who see the value of our work and support us in so many ways. And finally, a big thank you to all the friends of FLP who send gifts of money and resources that are so gratefully received by our beneficiaries – beautiful dolls from Uthando Dolls in Australia, books, blankets, balls, teddy bear, gloves, caps, toys … every single item sent is a valuable part of making our work a success.

 Pierre Horn