by John Strats

PEP preps the country's learners

Supporting academic development in struggling communities

Pep Academy aids Grade 4 learners
Supporting academic development in struggling communities

The 11th PEP Academy in South Africa opened at Ikhusi Primary School in Khayelitsha, a second academy opened at Belhar as a Teacher of the Year reward, and the company has just launched a new Grade 5 library project.

The Khayelitsha Academy will give more than 160 children extra tuition in numeracy and literacy. The academy is worth around R700 000 to the school; its principal Lulama Maji is delighted that the company was able to extend its flagship corporate social investment programme to the school. 

"We strive to help our kids be well educated, but for the Grade 4 learners it is very hard ... so a programme like this, which works and is run within our school, is not only welcomed but also celebrated."

Grade 4 is one of the most difficult school years because the children have to switch from their mother tongue (Grade 3) to having lessons in English language tuition (Grade 4) and from four to nine learning areas. As children are taught in a language that is unfamiliar to them, building a strong learning foundation at this stage is critical.

The academy, a learning model approved by the department of education and which provides supplementary education after school, addresses this challenge and results from previous years' proof that the academies do help Grade 4 learners to achieve better marks.

The academies, which first opened in 2008, have provided around 8 000 learners with extra tuition in literacy and numeracy, the building blocks of education, as well as specialised training for teachers every year; around 90 teachers are employed on the programme in 2013. 

PEP managing director Leon Lourens said, "For us, the academy ticks a lot of social ills boxes. We provide an effective education tool, empower teachers, keep kids at school, keep them enthused and inspired, keep them off the street and out of trouble, keep them safe and keep them fed and watered, as they get a snack and juice before they start their studies. We're very proud of this initiative."

The Western Cape Government education department's director (Metro East), Melvyn Caroline, adds: "Initiatives of this sort are sorely needed today and we welcome PEP as a partner in helping to improve the education of Grade 4 kids at such a crucial stage in their development."

 

Teacher of the Year wins academy

The principal, teachers and learners at Belhar Primary in Belhar are also celebrating because a second PEP Academy opened in their school this week. Mrs Bell of Belhar Primary was named 2012 Teacher of the Year and part of her prize was that her school would receive a PEP Academy. "I am enormously proud that, through winning this award, there are other winners too ... over 160 of them, in fact, because that's how many Grade 4 kids will benefit from the PEP Academy this year," she says.

 

Grade 5 reading programme pilot

To help sustain the learning gained in Grade 4, a custom-made library-based programme has been introduced to the two Bloemfontein schools and two Gauteng schools that run the PEP Academy. The 'Reading Alive' programme aims to inspire a love of reading while further building the reading competence of Grade 5 learners. If successful, the pilot will be extended to all academies nationally. The library contains 100 books with teacher guides and learner workbooks and the aim is to inspire learners to become life-long readers.

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