Monty’s pupils read their way to high school

Pupils from Montagu’s Gift Primary School, affectionately known as Monty’s, in Grassy Park, were standing tall after they received certificates for completing the “Help to read with a difference” programme.

The programme was co-ordinated by Parkwood resident Aletta Frans and her project partner, Shariff Adams.

It was started in April after Ms Frans visited a few high schools in Grassy Park. “I was not happy to see that reading is a problem in high schools,” said Ms Frans who was worried that children are not able to learn if they cannot read.

“Many of these children stay in high school for only six months, then they drop out. That is why I decided to step in and help the primary school children with English and Afrikaans. I didn’t want to see our children drop-out of school, so I decided to make sure they can read before they go to high school.”

Ninety children from Grade 4 to Grade 7 graduated from the “Help to read with a difference” programme on Thursday November 24.

Ms Frans said she has seen a transformation in the pupils. “One girl couldn’t read the alphabet. She was given three letter words to study. She would also take these words and study the meaning of them in English and Afrikaans. Today, she can read simple books with short sentences.”

Ms Frans has been a community worker for 20 years. She had studied Early Childhood Education for three years at Cape Peninsula University and Technology after her husband died in 2006. “However, I couldn’t finish my last year, due to financial difficulties,” said Ms Frans.

She did, however, complete many other courses involving parenting skills, drug abuse, counselling and she is a pastor at House of Prairie Revival Ministry in Parkwood.

Ms Frans said Monty’s is an English and Afrikaans school, “However, some parents send their Afrikaans-speaking children to an English class. This makes it very difficult for the children to cope.”

She said she teaches the children how to read and also understand what they are reading. “Our approach is to teach and to explain the meaning of the word. But before we even start reading we teach them discipline and how to focus on reading. They were taught listening skills and better writing methods as well.”

She said dictionaries were frequently used. “We also taught them how to love a book by handling it with care.”

Mr Adams helped the Grade 4s with literacy and numeracy and was impressed to see how the children had improved.

He said he wanted to share his passion with the children. “I didn’t like reading when I was growing up, but now I love it because I have a hunger for knowledge.”

Montagu’s Gift Primary School principal Reginald Gabriel thanked the co-ordinators at the graduation ceremony.

“If you are able to read successfully, you will not only have the benefit of reading but you will be able to communicate.”

Mr Gabriel said pupils at their school face challenges such as gangsterism and violence, which disrupt their lives and unsettle them, so they needed a positive school environment.

He thanked Ms Frans and Mr Adams for bringing that positivity into the children’s lives. “This programme will make a difference in the lives of our kids.

* Ms Frans is planning to start an NPO for youth development, focusing on skills training such as computer skills training and creating job opportunities. She already has a constitution in place and has applied for an NPO number.

If you want to join Ms Frans, call her on 078 600 9211.