The communities within which Sinani projects work are also affected by literacy challenges. Not only are children struggling with reading for meaning in their own languages but also accessing age-appropriate material to read in both their mother-tongue and English. In this regard it has been exciting to discover and work with a specialist partner to tackle this problem. Penreach (http://penreach.co.za) is a large organisation with extensive reach and impact into the field of basic education. Their Asifundze Literacy and Numeracy Program reaches both into schools and communities. The community efforts include “Reading Camps” which supply books and reading gatherings for children – bringing the library to communities where these are not present or accessible.
The Reading Camp program kicks off when a local champion from the community is found who has a heart and love for the children and their progress in reading. Penreach then trains the volunteer in creative ways in promoting reading among young readers (up to grade 4) and supplies them with a book bank of reading material. The pace, extent and size of the Reading Camp is up to the volunteer, their ability and availability and venue. Some Reading Camps meet once a week, others less frequently. Some are small, some have grown large. Some have attracted older children who also hunger to improve their reading. Penreach then regularly visit the volunteers to encourage, support and help them. The book banks are rotated between Reading Camps when everything in them has been read. Click here to read this recent update and reflection on the progress of Reading Camps by Penreach staff member, Ronald Chanetsa.
The Sinani project in Masoyi has already had 10 volunteers trained in running reading camps, and we’re hoping that as other volunteers in other communities are identified, the the program can expand further. Penreach offers Sinani projects an easier way to approach this huge challenge – all they need is willing and compassionate people to work with. The book banks that are supplied can be added to by means of donations of age-appropriate reading materials.