Reading Clubs/Book Clubs: The rationale for starting up reading and writing clubs is that there a general lack of reading culture in South Africa. Where reading is done, mostly in schools, it is usually boring and done for academic reasons. We believe that reading should be fun and that learners should be inspired to read by observing and interacting with reading role models around them as well as engaging with reading itself in enjoyable ways.
The Sifunda Kunye Literacy Project reading club was relaunched in 2014. When it started there were about 30 learners that attended. Now the club has over 150 learners from 5 different schools around the Keiskamahoek community, Eastern Cape. In 2014 when the club relaunched we incorporated the idea of using St Matthews’s high school learners to volunteer facilitation services in the club. This initiative has grown with many learners competing to get into facilitation. The student volunteers facilitate for a year and at the end of each year we select a facilitator of the year. The reading club is founded on the principle that children already have meaningful input to bring to the space, therefore we work with their language, literacy and cultural resources.
The clubs are:
- Creative/Academic Writing Club
These are once a week writing clubs for grade 10/11 learners to teach them to write for real reasons, for creative purposes and for academic purposes. The clubs focused mainly on the following:
- Focus on autobiography and poetry writing in TERM 1
- Focus on Story writing in TERM 2
- Focus on writing of ARGUMENTS and DISCUSSIONS in TERM 3
- Focus on writing NEWSPAPER ARTICLES/REPORT WRITING in TERM 4
- Reading Clubs/Book Clubs:
The rationale for starting up reading and writing clubs is that there is a general lack of reading culture in South Africa. Where reading is done, mostly in schools, it is usually boring and done for academic reason. We believe that reading should be fun and that learners should be inspired to read by observing and interacting with reading role models around them as well as engaging with reading itself in enjoyable ways. The books clubs are in two forms:
- Reading club for primary school children (grade R-7): These reading clubs consist of 70 primary school children. They will be facilitated by high school learners who are part of the clubs, therefore have firm base on how to coach children with reading and writing. The volunteers will be under the leadership of literacy projects facilitators every Saturday.
- Book Club (grade 10-11): These book clubs are composed of 30 girls and boys, and facilitated by the Community Literacy Coordinator once a week. The group of thirty learners include an equal number of strong, average and weak learners, so that it does not appear as a club for only strong learners or for weak learners. We believe that our reading and writing role models need to read for themselves and appreciate reading in order for them to be able to share their love for reading with the young readers at the reading clubs.
- Drama, Poetry/Song, and Dance Clubs:
We offer training to grade 10/11 learners to take part in drama, poetry, song and dance, so as to grow their confidence and self-esteem and to experience reading in a positive way.
- We help learners find a problem in the community or in a book, present it through play, song and dance combined and present a solution to it. This teaches learners to develop critical thinking skills and as well problem solving skills.
- Get learners to produce a drama performance which can be played for primary and senior primary learners of surrounding schools.
We get learners to express themselves through poetry and teach them to enjoy playing with words and language to convey meaning. Poetry reading and performances is encouraged.
- Songs and dance:
We encourage learners to sing along and dance to good music and to write and sing their own songs.We also encourage them to collect songs for babies, make song books and record CDs that go with the songs for young children.
- Writing Camps:
Community Literacy Facilitators and volunteers from the University of Fort Hare to offer writing workshops/camps three times a year to grade eight (8) and nine (9) learners of five Sifunda Kunye Partner schools. For the camps, we require:
- Each of the five partner schools to identify 10 learners, to participate in the writing camps (will have a total of 50 learners per camp)
- The writing camps are held at one of the biggest schools of the five, during long weekends of 27th April; June 16, Women’s Day or Heritage Day.
- Book Making Project:
This programe was not part of the project initially, however as we started with the reading clubs we noticed a huge lack of storybooks for children written in their mother tongue (isiXhosa). And that is how the book making project was born.
Learners from grade 10 and 11 embarked on a journey to write books which will in turn be used in reading clubs.
A group of 25 learners wrote and illustrated 7 storybooks, coached by literacy facilitators. Which were published by Sifunda Kunye Literacy Project, These books included a compilation anthology and a nursery rhymes. Each book has two stories.
- Bi-Literacy Project:
This is a new programme that was fuelled by noticing the struggles of children who come to the reading club concerning reading and writing.
Here the literacy project facilitators dedicate 3 days a week to the primary school feeding St Mathew’s high school, sharing stories, talking and singing which helps a child’s development. This all builds children’s early literacy skills, helping them to go on and read successfully later.
With all these projects, we will not only have served the high school but we will have served their closest primary and junior secondary schools as well as families.