The Shine Centre, a volunteer-driven non-governmental organisation dedicated to improving literacy levels among young learners, has opened its fifth centre at the St Agnes Convent Primary School in Woodstock, Cape Town.
The extension forms part of Shine’s ongoing aim to raise literacy levels, through early intervention, among second-language learners in grade two and three who are experiencing difficulty in language and reading.
St Agnes’ principal Alfonso Louw was excited about the opportunity to assist learners in improving their basic literacy skills.
“When I joined St Agnes Primary I realised how many learners arrived without a fluency in English, and the latest reading assessments from the Department of Education also reflected this problem,” he said at the launch last month.
“Working in collaboration with the Shine Centre can bring us closer to our dream to have each and every learner who enters our school leave with the ability to read and write English fluently.”
Established at Observatory Junior in 2000, the Shine Centre is a volunteer-driven NGO which has developed a proven and innovative approach to mentoring second-language learners.
The Shine model has shown a measureable impact on the literacy levels of learners in grade two and three. These grades form part of the foundation phase, which is the most crucial phase in a learner’s education, providing the building blocks for language, literacy and numeracy.
Recent results from the Western Cape Education Department show that literacy levels among grade six learners at Observatory Junior School have improved from 48% to 78% in 2007 and from 78% to 84.4% in 2009. Most of these grade six learners would have been on the Shine programme in 2005 and 2006.
Dependent on volunteers
The Shine Centre is committed to improving literacy levels in schools and is entirely dependent on volunteers to implement the Shine programme.
“They currently have a diverse group of volunteers which includes students, retired folk, young parents, fulltime workers, part-time and flexi-hour workers as well as volunteers from abroad,” the organisation says.
Volunteers are not required to be qualified teachers; a love of books, children and a willingness to do basic training is enough.