Posted on

NGOs work together to print children’s books at affordable prices

Much has been said about the great need to make quality local books available and affordable, especially for young children. During literacy month in September, we are celebrating a collaborative initiative that is making it possible for many more children to have beautiful books in their own language.  

Through an initiative between NGOs and publishers, 16 organisations have been able to purchase 12 402 children’s books in six languages for an average of R21 per title! This project was initiated by Biblionef, Wordworks, Smartstart, Blue Door ECE and Nal’ibali, who selected titles, sent out a call for interest to NGO’s and worked with publishers to co-ordinate bulk printing orders. The total cost of books at trade prices would have been R 870 000. With this bulk purchase we paid R 443 000.

 This project is a great example of organisations working together with publishers to make quality books more affordable, and to ensure that children are able to read and enjoy books in their own languages. Half of the titles that were printed in the collaborative print run were in African languages, and Carol Broomhall of JACANA explains that “the bulk order allowed us to print across a range of languages and the numbers were crucial in terms of being able to push the print button. It is impossible to print small quantities of different titles in a range of languages at an affordable price”.

 At Wordworks, we will be distributing books to schools and partners who use our programmes.  We know that each one of these books will find their way into the hands of children whose teachers, parents and caregivers are already doing so much to promote literacy in their homes, classrooms and communities.

 We would like to thank those whose contributions to our Storybook Fund made it possible for Wordworks to buy books.

Posted on

The Wordworks Stellar programme is alive and well in the Eastern Cape!

In September, we met in East London with our partners, Institute of Training and Education for capacity building (ITEC), Khululeka, Early Inspiration, and K2A. In a detailed feedback session we discussed their experiences of training and supporting Grade R teachers using Stellar.

The trainers shared how interest in the programme is growing, with one organisation saying that they have a waiting list of teachers who want to attend Stellar training.

Teachers say that the children love the Stellar story-based activities, and that they can see the growth in the children’s oral language and emergent literacy skills. We are delighted that all of our partners are on board to continue with the programme next year.

We were very pleased that Carien Vorster, our grant manager from USAID, was able to join our discussion after a whirlwind visit to six East London schools supported by ITEC.


Posted on

Teachers capacitated to work with parents to support their children’s learning at home

A group of dedicated teachers and social workers from schools in the West Coast Education District graduated as facilitators of the Wordworks Home-School Partnerships Programme (HSPP) on Saturday 9th September. Although 30 people from 9 schools qualified, only 20 from 6 schools were able to attend the ceremony at Vredendal North Primary School. Also in attendance were Mr Claasen, the Western Cape Education Department Circuit 5 Team Manager, and Ms Nonnie Cloete, Subject Advisor.

These teachers and social workers attended four Wordworks training workshops before facilitating an 8-week programme with interested parents and caregivers of children at their schools. The focus of the Home-School Partnerships Programme is to show parents and caregivers how they can support their children’s learning at home in an informal and effective way. Sessions with parents were conducted after school hours and over weekends.

So far this year, 785 parents have participated in HSP programmes run at 46 schools across the Peninsula by 189 teacher-facilitators. This is the first time this programme is being run in the West Coast School District.

Wordworks applauds the teachers, social workers, parents and caregivers who together help build strong language foundations for their children in the early years. Read more about the Wordworks HSPP here.

Posted on

Teachers working with parents to help build strong language foundations for their children

We are nearing the end of a very fulfilling rollout of the Wordworks Home-School Partnerships Programme in the Western Cape this year. Just under 800 determined parents from 50 schools/organisations have successfully completed an 8-week course facilitated by dedicated teachers from their children’s schools. (See our facebook page for more graduation pictures). The focus of the course was on how parents/caregivers can support their children’s informal learning at home.


Read about what some parents have to say:

Not only does my child enjoy learning and doing homework, but the whole family gets involved!

Homework is no longer a fight session, but a time to learn for myself and for my child.

The later classes were exciting– the reading, conversations,  the how, what and why… My daughter talks so much more now. She shows much more interest in reading. Also the class gave me more confidence, more patience. It starts at the crèche, where my son is. I am going to share with them what we do.

My child in Grade 3 was struggling with reading, and now that I know how to break up the words, and be very visual, it is getting a bit better. Now I have a clearer understanding of what to work on. Also about managing my time, and having patience.

Some teachers’ comments:

Three things hit home for our parents. They began to understand that learning begins at home. One of the fathers said the following: I’ve learnt a lot, thinking that learning begins at school, now I know it begins at home’. 

When we engage with parents, we become one of them. It’s my community, I am part of the group.  We are giving back. My husband tells me I am lit up. It works for me, it works for the community, it works for the child.  It’s not work – it’s something that we want to do.

This year 15 parents came and 15 graduated – mostly grandmothers,   even though they had to walk through very violent areas.   We work together in our FP and everyone assists. We didn’t see it as another job.  We want to empower our parents to empower our learners. We have a choice about whether we will go back to Lavender Hill or not, but our children don’t have a choice. Thank-you for giving us something extra. Parents see that …they have a voice.

We applaud both the dedicated parents (and caregivers), and the teachers who worked together after school hours and sometimes on weekends to help build strong language foundations in the early years.

Read more about the Wordworks Home-School Partnerships Programme .

Posted on

Ready Steady Read Write (RSRW) trains Co-ordinators in the Eastern Cape


New Wordworks’ partner organisation, Bitou 10 (Plettenberg Bay), joined The Lebone Centre (Grahamstown), Sophakama Community Partnership (Pearston) and Masinyusane Development Organisation (PE) at our training workshop in August. Read more about these WordNetworks partners below:


Bitou 10 Foundation

The Bitou 10 Education and Development Foundation works with the 10 government schools and 30 Early Childhood Development (ECD) sites in the Bitou municipal district near Plettenberg Bay. They provide a variety of services to these schools including literacy and mathematics; art, music and drama; occupational and remedial therapy and E-learning support.

The Lebone Centre

The Lebone Centre in Grahamstown aims to work in partnership with the relevant communities to address the effects of poverty and help children to maximize their potential. In addition to running a pre-school and an aftercare facility at the Centre, Project Read is one of their literacy projects.This programme is run at 4 schools surrounding the Lebone Centre, targeting Foundation Phase children from Grade R to Grade 3.

Sophakama Community Partnership

Sophakama (which means “We will rise”) is the community partnership programme of the Plains of Camdeboo Private Nature Reserve in the Karoo. It has two primary portfolio areas: Early Childhood Development and Environmental Education. One of their projects is an early literacy programme which is run in two primary schools in Pearston by volunteers who work with the children every week

Masinyusane Development Organisation

Masinyusane (which means “Let us raise each other up”) is an education non-profit working with children and families in the townships of Port Elizabeth. The organisation hires and trains unemployed youth to implement their initiatives. They also strive to send as many of these young people to college or university.

Posted on

139 HSPP Teachers submit their portfolios to Wordworks

The Wordworks office was virtually overflowing with Home School Partnership Programme portfolios in the first week of August! These rich and detailed portfolios are evidence of teachers having run their 8-week programmes with parents in their communities.

139 HSPP facilitators from 38 schools submitted their portfolios. Furthermore, 39 of these facilitators took up the offer to submit individual portfolios which met the requirements for the HSPP short course through UCT. All portfolios will be marked by a specially appointed evaluator and those registered with UCT will be marked and then checked by an external moderator. Successful candidates will receive their certificates in November.

We applaud these teachers for their dedication! We thank them for the wonderful work they do with parents and also for contributing to Wordworks’ growing knowledge base through their insightful reporting.

Posted on

Mandela Day at Wordworks

To honour a day (and a person) meant to encourage individuals to make a difference, we spent a wonderful 67 minutes and much more on 18 July being creative with families and friends.

Thank you to all who joined the Wordworks team in making resources from recycled materials. Older ones shared their knowledge and skills, and little ones proudly showed off their new skills and products!

Four ‘production stations’ offered participants options to make knitted balls, games for matching colours and shapes, discovery bottles, and baby board books, amongst others.

Everybody participated – from toddlers to oldies! See our facebook album to see some pictures from the day.

The toys and games will be used for training kits to be distributed to our Every Word Counts Programme partners.

Posted on

Every Word Counts Training: NGOs build knowledge and reflect on progress

20 participants from eight NGOs working in the Western and Eastern Cape are attending monthly EWC training sessions for the remainder of 2017 and early 2018, at the lovely Novalis Ubuntu Institute in Wynberg. These NGOs are sharing EWC with home visitors, in parent groups and with ECD practitioners.

In the past we offered 3-day block training in EWC, but wanted to try a different model of training where partners have the opportunity over a year to build their knowledge and reflect on project progress, and share with and learn from other organisations.

So far we have focused on how the main caregivers of babies and young children can support learning through talking, playing and singing. Some of the highlights participants mention are getting new insight into how to build language through exploring the senses and talking about feelings, asking and answering questions, and learning through play.

Posted on

New partners for Ready Steady Read Write

Four schools and four organisations recently joined Wordworks as Ready Steady Read Write partners and attended the Co-ordinator’s Training Workshop in May 2017.

    1. ACVV Bright Lights is a drop-in centre based in Somerset West that provides basic emotional, physical and social development services to 30 boys between the ages of eight and 18.
    2. Training and Development Foundation operates on a farm in Kuilsriver. The current programme is run after school hours but they wish to start an educational program in the morning with children under the age of 6 who live on the farm.
    3. Izakhono Youth Organisation is a community based organisation in Nyanga, offering a positive lifestyle to young people. They work with parents and young children and believe that through education they can make a difference.
    4. African Legend is a registered non-profit organisation that hopes to improve South Africa’s socio-economic situation by offering educational and skills development programs for children mainly in the Delft and Du Noon communities.
    5. Jamaica Way Primary School in Mitchell’s Plain wanted to start a programme where parents from the community volunteer their time to assist Foundation Phase learners with their reading and writing skills during the school morning.
    6. Kleinberg Primary School in Ocean View is currently running a Shine literacy programme for Grade Twos and wanted to work with Afrikaans children in Grade One to improve their reading and writing skills.
    7.  Yeshua Christian Primary School in Heathfield heard about various Wordworks early literacy programmes and chose to start up the Ready Steady Read Write programme to assist their Grade R and Grade One children with reading and writing skills.
    8.  Intshayelelo Primary School in Nyanga recently ran a very successful Home School Partnership programme with the parents and they now wish to introduce the Ready Steady Read Write programme to assist Grade 2 and 3 children with English literacy.

We welcome them to our network and are very excited about working with them in the future!

Posted on

Learning and support visits to EWC partners in KZN and EC

Earlier this year, the Every Word Counts (EWC) team visited our partners in KZN and the Eastern Cape who are using this programme with families and in ECD centres.  We went on home visits, attended training workshops with ECD practitioners, and assisted partners to plan their training, being guided by what support partners wanted from us. We visited 9 organisations in KZN and 9 in the Eastern Cape.






We also conducted EWC refresher workshops, attended by 17 participants in the Eastern Cape and 19 in KZN.

It was wonderful to build relationships, see how our partners are using EWC in unique ways, and to help deepen their understanding of the importance of building language and starting early!