BY FUNDISWA FIHLANI
I grew up in a black community and the only “books” I was exposed to were magazines. My mother couldn’t help me much with my homework because she never got the chance to study herself. This is the case for most families in low income communities in South Africa. We live in a society where technology is taking over and people no longer feel the need to talk to one another face to face. Children are struggling to learn their mother tongue because no one has time for normal conversations. Learning a second language becomes even harder because we can hardly speak our own home language properly. The most important reason for enabling children to learn English is so that they can effectively communicate with one another in our diverse communities. English has become a universal language in our society such that if one wants to advocate for oneself, it is critically important to be fluent in this language.
In 2010, we started attracting other nations into our country with the Soccer World Cup, and with a growing number of tourists coming in and out of our previously disadvantaged communities; wouldn’t it be a great thing for the people living in those communities to be able to tell their own stories? After all, an outsider wouldn’t have the same pride and effect as a resident. The people in our communities lack the confidence to interact with foreign visitors because they have poor English skills. The preschools and schools try their best to provide an adequate education for the children within their overcrowded classrooms but this is not enough. My point is that we have a problem that needs immediate attention. Some of us are dedicating our time to come up with solutions. We are not sure if our methods would work because we don’t have all the answers, but we are willing to try and not just sit still and do nothing.
What we need, and what South Africa needs, are more dedicated people who are willing to suggest, refine, and implement solutions to the education problem in this country. This problem starts with literacy and communication skills! Kariega Project is amongst the select few who are taking an initiative to remedy the literacy problem in our community.
Kariega Project has partnered up with two organisations, Zelda Jacob’s Education Support Group as well as Eunice Adams’ Masibulele Preschool with the aim of offering both early literacy services as well as English Enrichment. In order to generating ideas of how to best tackle the problem at hand, over the past few weeks, we have held countless meetings and brainstorming sessions with people who have experience in teaching primary school English We are making progresss, but more needs to be done. The people that volunteer at the Kariega Project have no teaching experience but they are willing to give their time in developing our community. And that’s a good start.