Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) has reaffirmed its commitment to improving literacy in the Bay with a multimillion rand investment aimed at training teachers who are empowering pupils, particularly through literacy.
As part of its goal to promote literacy among pupils under the age of 10, VWSA has made available R2m – part of a R4m investment – towards training teachers through partnering with and investing in Funda Wande, a Grahamstown-based non-profit organisation.
Funda Wande’s primary aim is to improve the reading ability of pupils from grades 1 to 3, as the majority of SA’s pupils are not taught to read with understanding in this phase.
In particular, the Reading4Meaning programme offered by Funda Wande, in association with the department of basic education and SA universities, is designed to equip foundation phase teachers to teach and encourage reading – both in pupils’ home language and in English as an additional language.
The course consists of 11 modules, with Funda Wande providing ongoing coaching for teachers.
VWSA’s most recent contribution of R2m to the programme will be used to fund a pilot project, which includes the development of a video-based course that will be offered online in both isiXhosa and English first additional language.
Once developed, this course will be piloted in the Eastern Cape. The funds will also be used towards developing a two-year part-time advanced certificate in foundation phase literacy teaching with Rhodes University.
Funda Wande project director Nic Spaull said the support from VWSA had already proved vital. “The VWSA investment in the early stages of the Funda Wande programme helped us to raise the status of early grade reading and reading for meaning in SA,” Spaull said.
“Perhaps the best evidence of the impact of the work we are doing is that President [Cyril] Ramaphosa pledged in his state of the nation address that it was one of his top five priorities to ensure “every 10year-old will be able to read for meaning” in the next 10 years.
“As further evidence of the impact of the investment in the Eastern Cape specifically, through Funda Wande’s partnership with the department of basic education in the province, the department decided to print anthologies of graded readers in isiXhosa and distribute them to every grade 1, 2 and 3 in the province in 2019.
“We were also asked by the department to train all subject advisers and over 400 heads of department on how to use the anthologies.”
VWSA chair and managing director Thomas Schaefer said the work done by Funda Wande was in line with VWSA’s priorities to eradicate illiteracy and empower youth in the long term.
“The literacy skills we give to our children will equip and empower them for the successes they achieve in the future,” he said.
“We intend to do our part to ensure they have the best chance at a bright future – and improving literacy in the Eastern Cape and South Africa is the first step.”
Additionally, more than 200 VWSA employees helped expand the company’s reach in education when they and their loved ones joined hands last month to make a difference in the Gelvandale community.
In the spirit of Mandela Day, employees volunteered their time to renovate the Dr Ambrose Cato George Skills Development Centre, as part of the annual Show of Hands initiative hosted by VWSA’s Community Trust.
The centre started with only 10 pupils in August 2011 and this has subsequently increased to 92 pupils. The skills training on offer includes motor mechanics, needlework, spray painting, sewing, woodwork and beadwork.
The volunteers were tasked with painting classroom doors and door frames, as well as exterior and interior walls and chalkboards. They also created murals and planted a waterwise garden at the centre.
In addition to refurbishing the centre, the volunteers also packed 20,000 meals which were donated to local charity organisations Arcadia Moravian Church, Salem Moravian Church, Jeanny’s Soup Kitchen, Outstretched Hand, Shode Outreach, Fishers of Men, St Vincent de Paul, Gelvan Frail Care Centre, Imfundo Educare and Baptist Church in Helenvale.