Solar farms promote literacy

2016-04-06 06:00
WITH the help of solar power farms, gr. 4 learners of 15 local primary schools will get help to improve their reading and literacy levels.  Photo: Supplied

WITH the help of solar power farms, gr. 4 learners of 15 local primary schools will get help to improve their reading and literacy levels. Photo: Supplied

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AT least 15 local schools will benefit from the Droogfontein Solar Power and the De Aar Solar Power literacy programmes.

These programmes are aimed at helping primary school learners to achieve competency at gr. 4 international reading and spelling levels.

According to Marion Green-Thompson, the economic development manager for Droogfontein and De Aar Solar Power, research shows that learners who are literate at gr. 4 level are 80% more likely to complete matric and be prepared for tertiary education and later employment, which supports the goals of economic upliftment.

The goal of Spell It, a literacy programme, is to be “learn-ready”, which has impacted 350 000 primary school children since 2010.

As with other educational programmes that are funded by the solar farms, this programme is implemented through partnership with the National Department of Basic Education and the various provincial departments.

“This programme is focused on gr. 4 basic literacy, in line with international research that has shown this to be a critical transition period, when learners move from the learning to read phase into the reading to learn phase,” added Green-Thompson.

The aim is for gr. 4 learners to have whole word recognition vocabulary of between 5 000 and 10 000 words and to be able to read at a speed of 123 words per minute.

The programme consists of three components, namely the vocabulary assistance programme (Vap), the teacher training and capacity building and the spelling bee competitions.

“The Vap is a step-by-step, fun series of card games, age-appropriate stories and interactive activities that assist learners in building on their existing knowledge while brushing up on the fundamentals of phonetics, spelling rules and word structure,” continued Green-Thompson.

The content is aligned with school curriculums and gives teachers exciting activities to do with learners in the classroom, while covering the required content to get learners spelling at their grade level. The Spell It programme fits into the solar farm’s commitment and support of local education as part of their socio-economic development initiatives.

This includes an extensive education audit in the region, an ongoing early childhood development (ECD) bursary programme, funding of ECD classroom equipment, training and provision of teaching aids, as well as an ongoing foundation phase reading coach programme.

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