The ability to read and write is the foundation on which all education rests, and here at Children in the Wilderness (CITW) Zambezi we have noticed a clear deterioration in the number of literate students progressing to the older grades. This decrease is largely due to the limited support lower grade teachers receive, as older students who are due to sit exams are given priority. This mind-set often leaves the problem to be addressed too late. CITW is looking to change the attitude towards this and provide the necessary support and guidance for the lower grade teachers through our annual Literacy Training Workshops using the Stellar Home Language Wordworks programme.
Each year we invite two teachers from each of our partnered schools (usually from the lower grades – ECD to Grade 2) to take part in the workshop and provide two facilitators to introduce and explain the programme’s new and exciting methods for teaching literacy to children. These methods can be used to complement the national curriculum and the training that teachers would have received through their colleges. The facilitators for this year’s workshops were Petra Schuler and Jo Labouchere, two fully qualified teachers with a long background in the Stellar Programme.
Stellar Home Language is “designed to strengthen language and emergent literacy in ECD and Grade R classrooms. It is interactive, activity-rich and is built around eight 2-week story-based frameworks. In a Stellar workshop, the teacher training integrates theory and practice, giving opportunity for reflection and planning. It aims to deepen teachers’ understanding of the vital role they play in building language and literacy, and equips them to partner with parents to achieve a child’s potential for learning and overall literacy.”
We had an overwhelmingly positive response from all of the 56 teachers who attended, both in Livingstone, Zambia, and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, where the workshops were held.
All the materials required for this process along with the Stellar packs were prepared and issued out for teachers to take back and utilise in their lesson plans going forward. The aim of this is to ensure our partnered schools feel the full benefit of this programme and that it has a positive ripple effect across the schools that we have not yet had a chance to reach.
The dedicated and enthusiastic teachers who had the opportunity to attend travelled from far and wide to join in the fun, with four even coming the incredible distance from Kisempa (Northern Zambia) all the way to Livingstone where the workshop was held, a journey that takes two whole days each way! They were not disappointed when they arrived, however, with the colourful and stimulating props and teaching aid examples on display we saw their eyes widen with anticipation to get started.
Hosted in the lovely Chapa Classic Lodge (Livingstone, Zambia) and Cresta Sprayview (Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe) conference rooms, the teachers were well looked after from the moment they arrived to the moment the headed out the door, with teas, coffees, meals, and water all provided. Wilderness Safaris’ generosity also had a great impact on the workshops, with their in-kind donation of daily transfers to the conference from their lodge for those staying with us from out of town, as well as the transfers to the from the Victoria Falls National Park on the bonus outing we included in this year’s workshop. This little excursion was well received and quoted as “the cherry on top of a wonderful week”.
We would like to say a huge thank you to all the teachers who attended and embraced the workshop for what it is, to those who donated their time and resources (such as discounts in the lodges, and transfers to the conference), and finally to Jo and Petra (our two facilitators) for sacrificing their time and energy to make these workshops the success that they were.