November saw the team embark on an outreach programme at the schools in Kwanzimakwe to support the partnerships and relationships that we have endeavoured to develop over the years. The programme involved an information session with HOD’s and Principals to create awareness about the importance of inclusion in education and how Siyakwazi can actively support this journey.
Our figures for 2017 show that working with schools has resulted in our biggest reach in terms engaging with children in Grade R who have been identified by our team as experiencing barriers to learning in the classroom. To give you an idea of the numbers, of the 4 local Primary Schools we engage with we are exposed to 456 children in Grade R of which 155 have been identified as experiencing some type of barrier to learning. That’s almost one third of children in this space!
ECD and school readiness are at the core of the programmes that we implement. For children who are ‘left behind’ in the mainstream system, the challenges experienced in learning are only compounded as they progress with their schooling career. By implementing small, workable programmes that assist in supporting teachers with children from any early age many barriers can be overcome, and a child is able to progress successfully in their learning.
The interventions by Siyakwazi provide an opportunity for early identification and early intervention; helping to address the marginalisation and exclusion of children with disabilities and learning barriers from effective learning in schools. We believe that we play a crucial role in breaking the cycle of failure and exclusion. We see the children we work with being included, becoming successful and some becoming school ready in Grade R and being promoted to Grade 1 in their local schools.
Getting back to our Outreach with the schools, we’ve realised over the years that simply telling the community that what we do is important is not as effective as when we work together as a collaborated effort. For many teachers, the pressures of oversized classrooms and curricula are their primary focus and we use the opportunity of the Outreach to show that we can help them with matters of inclusion and why their participation and support in the process is so important.
In the instance of some of the schools that we have worked with there has been some improvement in the practises implemented by the schools. For example, Xhonywa Primary school has successfully included a child with Down Syndrome into one of their grade R classes. She is participating and enjoying the benefits of our Siyasiza supporting laddering activities within the class that she may be included daily.
For 2018 we would like to continue our reach to the 4 schools in Kwanzimakwe, specifically focusing on Grade R school readiness and Grade 1 intervention groups. We have been fortunate enough to receive a lot of support from existing programmes including the WordWorks ‘Ready, Steady, Read, Write’ and ‘Every Word Counts’ Programmes which have been implemented over the past year with the Grade R and Grade 1 classes.
Although the Department of Education (DoE) have made mention of importance of quality school readiness, resources still fall short. Our aim is to work alongside schools so that we are better prepare our future generations, where all children can learn.