By Nandi Majola
At the heart of Grahamstown’s education industry lies a gem that could be the secret to alleviating illiteracy in the city.
The Lebone Centre, which was established in 2005 by Kingswood College, is an organisation committed to raising the literacy levels in the surrounding community by promoting early reading among children.
Central to the centre’s plans is the Lebone Literacy Programme launched at the beginning of 2014. With funding granted by the International Reading Association (IRA), the programme aims to build classroom libraries to provide children with easily accessible reading material and equip teachers to create meaningful reading programmes in their classrooms.
The programme has had a positive start with its three partner schools, consisting of George Dickerson, St Mary’s and Grahamstown Primary. Over six Foundation Phase educators from these schools have been involved in a series of three-hour workshops that were held in February and March by Sarah Murray and Jenny Hodgkiss from the Department of Education at Rhodes University.
The programme also involves assessing classrooms to determine the space needed for shelving, book storage and reading areas. The co-ordinators of the programme ensure the shelves in each classroom library are filled with recommended books relevant to the South African context.
“The Lebone Literacy Programme grew out of a 2013 literacy and reading in Africa conference that Lebone Centre Manager, Anneliese Maritz, attended in Kenya. Everyone who attended the conference was able to put forward a proposal to the IRA, requesting funding for a particular project,” said Cathy Gush, a co-ordinator of the literacy programme.
Moving forward, Gush would like to see the programme grow to include many more schools that do not have libraries.