The Family Literacy Project (FLP) was established in 2000 to address the concern raised by findings of research conducted by Khulisa Management Services that showed no improvement in the early literacy levels in pre-schoolers, despite training and support provided through the national Department of Education. To explore the role of families, the FLP held workshops in rural sites in southern KwaZulu-Natal for adults caring for children at home. These workshops provided opportunities for adults to discuss, learn and experiment with ways they could use everyday experiences and materials to build early literacy skills in their children. A participatory rural appraisal conducted late in 2000 showed that the adults also wanted to improve their own literacy. Five women, chosen by the FLP groups to become facilitators, were trained in adult literacy (by Operation Upgrade), early literacy and the participatory Reflect approach. Teaching units were developed to meet the interest of family literacy group members on topics such as child protection, committee skills, HIV/AIDS and special days.
We support four community libraries which are open every day and run holiday programmes for children in these remote villages. We also facilitate a home visiting programme to promote child and maternal health and early childhood development.
Building on the success of our work we are now working in 15 villages in Ingwe, Mzimkulu, KwaSani and Impendle municipalities, in the Sisonke District. The Family Literacy Network was started in 2010 to encourage long standing FLP adult groups to use their literacy skills to improve their lives through income generating projects and savings clubs.
When Pierre Horn took over as director towards the end of 2013, FLP integrated the non-formal education programmes of Vukuzakhe Projects (VP) into our work. VP operates mostly in the low cost housing developments in Underberg and Himeville, and in farm schools and farms in the district. FLP and VP have much to learn from each other, with the integration of the two projects enriching the quality and scope of our work.
We have partnerships with a number of NGOs to promote family literacy. In 2013 we began training the government’s Community Work Programme participants in Sisonke and Impendle districts to do home visits to improve the development of early literacy and learning of children 0-5 years, and this is continuing through 2014. Select ‘Partnerships’ for more information about who we collaborate with.