English Literacy

smile literacy article

Nogqaza Junior School has been committed to a long-term literacy partnership with STEPP and both of us are reaping large rewards. The SMILE English Literacy programme that STEPP runs has proven that attendance by Grade 5 children for the year, improves their spoken English as well as their vocabulary and comprehension. The overall literacy of the children is significantly improved, as you can see in the monitoring and evaluation table below. To assess the impact of the literacy programme and library working together, STEPP assessed the Grade 6 learners who have been out of the literacy programme for a year. For Grade 6 the children have attended the school reading programme in the library. The results show that the Grade 6 learners had improved on their Grade 5 literacy scores. The children were confident and willing to speak in English making use of a large vocabulary. Of what remarkable value these partnerships have been. All of the work by the learners, Nogqaza School and STEPP has been richly rewarded with significant English improvement over a two-year period and it seems that with the solid infrastructure in place, we can only expect more good news. The pre- and post-testing of the Grade 5 learners prove that through the SMILE programme, an increase in English literacy, specifically from one-word answers to full sentences with a full comprehension of the context and language, is a definite result for a child who attends.

From creating the cement foundation to managing the donation of an Edutainer for Nogqaza School and filling it with books, a library has risen up in the community. The Edutainer was designed as a library, which was filled with books from the College community and some generous Hilton residents. Fully electrified, the library runs an accession programme off a computer. STEPP and staff at Nogqaza School worked together to enable a committed librarian to run the library. Mr Chris Mapumulo is an incredible librarian who has introduced library lessons as an integrated part of the school's weekly timetable. St Anne's staff and girls visited the library on a weekly basis over the last two years to catelogue the donated books and implement the running of the library in the school. Within that time, girls of the College spent an hour reading to the children, enjoying their company and encouraging development in English literacy.

Recently, the children in the SMILE programme were invited to watch educational plays created at St Anne's College by the Grade 11 Drama students. The plays focused on 'Childline', 'Hooked on Books' and "How to say Hello in Five Different Languages'. This was my reaction shortly after the plays finished: "I have just had the privilege of watching theatre and social responsibility in action. Earlier this year staff shared on the opportunities available to match tasks in the classroom with social responsibility. The Form Five Drama class produced sensational educational plays. It is how they transformed those plays into action that took my breath away. For a magical hour, Nogqaza children participated in and applauded plays that taught them not to talk to strangers and the number for Childline, while 'Hooked on books' provided songs, along with just enough fiction and non-fiction to make you want to go and read the end of the story in book form". The Nogqaza staff member also commented, saying, "I am learning too. In my English lessons we can act out the books that the children read!"

SMILE is a weekly literacy programme run by STEPP on Tuesday afternoons with Grade Five learners. Qualified teachers introduce the vocabulary and meaning of the words for the afternoon's theme. Student Guides [St Anne's senior girls] spend the next hour playing interactive games with the children demanding that they use, speak and become familiar with the same vocabulary. The enjoyment from all parties is tangible and infectious and every year we have a generous list of girls volunteering to be student guides for this partnership. Our thanks go to FEDICS who provide lunch for each one of these children every Tuesday of SMILE.



English Literacy monitoring and evaluation:




English Literacy

Grade 5 Pre-test

All beneficiaries are tested to establish the literacy level of each
learner. The test reveals a level 1 understanding of English,
which refers to one word answers.


Grade 5 Post-test

All beneficiaries are tested to establish the literacy level of each
learner at the end of a one-year programme. In the first group,
37 of the 38 learners showed a Level 3 ability in English literacy,
which refers to full sentence answers. In the second group, 28 of
the 32 learners showed a Level 3 ability in English literacy.


Grade 6 learners one
year out of the programme

STEPP established a library at the SMILE learners’ school
[Nogqaza Junior School]. The Nogqaza teacher established a
timetable of library lessons. Grade 6 learners had surpassed
their Grade 5 post test, were confident in speaking English, and
increased their vocabulary and willingness to speak in English.