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What is ABC For Life?

Monday, March 19, 2018

Every good action creates another ….. This was the belief that ABC for Life was founded on when one concerned individual took an interest the education of one teenage boy. Today, ABC for Life reaches more than 300 students at Sentinel School in Hangberg, Hout Bay and is part of the umbrella group the Hout Bay Education Trust.


ABC for Life serves the Sentinel School community with English, Maths and Afrikaans bridging classes, a “Love of Reading” Programme, one- on- one learner support, and after school programmes. It is a registered NPO (073-897) and PBO (930-029-913) under the umbrella of the Hout Bay Education Trust. Every good action creates another…..


What We Do

At the beginning of the school year, teachers from Sentinel Primary School refer students who are failing in the key skills areas of English, mathematics and Afrikaans to ABC for Life. Pre-tests are then administered to determine the level of functioning of each student and their suitability to participate in the programme. These are students who, with a little support, have the potential to succeed.


Based on their proficiency, students are “streamed” into groups of between 6 to 10 students each.


Low-scoring students participate in three 45-minute bridging classes per week, amounting to 60 hours of teaching time per annum.


Those who score slightly better are assigned two 45-minute slots per week, totalling 40 hours of teaching time per annum.


The aim is to “bridge” students to their correct grade within a 12-month period.


At year-end, ABC for Life administers post-tests to determine how much of the lost work students have caught up. These results are compared to students’ results in the Department of Basic Education’s Annual National Assessment (ANA), and only if they achieve 50% or more in the ANA are students “returned” to their correct grade.


Students who are not ready to return participate in one more term of the bridging programme.


Love Of Reading Programme

The “Love of Reading” Programme was introduced at the beginning of 2013. It is implemented and coordinated by Diana Seccombe in partnership with local volunteers, You2Africa and All Out Africa volunteers.


In a one-year period, 100 students benefit from the Programme.


Graded reading books are used in two half-hour sessions per week, which amounts to a total of 38 hours of reading time per annum. This is done in the form of one-on-one or paired sessions with the students, so each student receives a great deal of personal attention.


The primary aim is to improve students’ reading level, which in turn leads to an improvement in academic achievement. The programme also improves concentration, and cultivates a love of reading among children. Reading also broadens children’s worldview, and hones critical and analytical thinking skills.


After-School Programme

The After-school Programme serves about 40 Grade 4 students. It runs four days a week (Monday – Thursday). It is run entirely under the direction of volunteers. Some homework support is provided, but the emphasis is on learning through fun. Extensive use is made of educational games and toys.


In addition to academic support which results in improved school performance, the homework support programme also keeps children safe and off the streets after school hours, and each child is provided with a healthy snack.


One-on-One Support Program for Code 1 Students

Code 1 students are students who achieve less than 20% when tested for proficiency in their grade level. These children are not accepted into the bridging programme as they require individual tuition, and as there are a greater percentage of children in this cohort who have special needs. We employed five volunteers,(concentrating on Afrikaans learners) whom we are paying stipends for the continuity and the effectiveness of this programme. All out Africa and You 2 Africa also provide us with as many volunteers as they can to help the code 1 English learners.


However, ABC for Life does all it can to assist these children, and is very fortunate in this regard to have a partnership with International Citizen Services in the UK, which places as many as 20 volunteers with ABC for Life annually. These young volunteers provide classroom support and daily one-on-one support in reading and writing for up to 21 code 1 students in Grades 2 to 6.


Career Guidance Programme

The Career Guidance Programme for 70 Grade 7 students was launched in 2013. It is implemented on a volunteer basis by psychology honors students.As of March 2014, weekly one-hour career guidance sessions was implemented. To date 113 grade 7 students are benefiting from this programme.


2016 is a dream come true for the extension of Career Guidance to our sister school Hout Bay High School. The programme provides career coaching to grade 9 and 10 classes. Our learners participated in the Cape Town Students Expo held in Waterfront this year.


An assessment revealed a very limited knowledge among students of career options. The aim of the programme is to expose students to a much broader range of career and study opportunities, and to educate them about the entry requirements for the various options so that they can set realistic goals for themselves and make the correct subject choices in high school.


How ABC For Life Works

The teaching methodology of the Bridging Programme was developed by Val Toledo and has been used successfully for close to 20 years. It is a six-step process which can be used in any subject and aligned to any curriculum and examination system.


The methodology is very perceptually based, and the senses are used to help students overcome blocks and difficulties to their learning.


The Programme is aligned with the concepts and skills set out in the Department of Basic Education’s Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS). Nurturing each student’s emotional wellbeing is a priority in the methodology. A safe space is created by affirming their value, and treating them with empathy and respect. By helping them create their “vision” or “dream-board”, they also develop a sense of purpose, and know what they are working towards.


There are no more than 10 students per class in order to allow each learner to receive as much personal attention as he or she requires. The measurement process itself is integral to the methodology, as it does not merely entail a “before and after” scenario, but an evaluation after every 5 hours of teaching time to ensure that the skills covered have been mastered. Only once this is the case may the teacher progress to the next set of skills. This process ensures that students experience success in the programme at regular intervals, and remain motivated and confident.


Teachers receive intensive initial training, and are monitored on an on-going basis. At the end of each term, supplementary training is offered based on an evaluation of students’ progress against pre-determined measurements.

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