Mkoba 4 Primary School in Gweru, Zimbabwe, caters for approximately 2,200 students. Particular support is provided by ALERT and Antelope Park to assist in the school’s Special Needs Class. Giving individual attention to those children who need it most allows the class teacher to concentrate on delivering the national curriculum in a manner appropriate to the needs of these students.
Currently, the Special Needs Class consists of 14 students. As individual assessments are still in progress, we anticipate that more children will join once they have been completed. The class is divided into two groups; one consisting of students requiring one-to-one attention, and the other made up of those able to work more independently.
Recent lessons have focused on teaching the alphabet, essential before the students can begin to learn to read and write in English. The objectives are for the class to be able to:
- Recite the alphabet
- Identify uppercase letters
- Identify lowercase letters
- Match uppercase letters to lowercase letters
- Identify the sounds each letter makes
- Trace letters
- Write alphabet letters
Firstly, students were shown the different letters and asked to trace their shapes in the air, while saying each one’s phonetic sound out loud. This proved challenging initially, as the children were confusing the English pronunciation with that of their first language, Shona.
In the next lesson, individual letters were cut out and placed on a table. One at a time, students were asked to pick a named letter and place it in a basket, for example: ‘Please pick up the letter M’. The activity was repeated several times to reinforce the learning, however some students were still struggling. The introductory lesson on letter recognition was repeated to help them.
The following lesson was called ‘What is this?’ and was used to assess the level of learning that had taken place during previous sessions. Students in the more advanced group were able to recall what they had been taught so far about the alphabet. Students in the other group struggled and so will need further work on this area in coming weeks.
About Our School Development Projects
Our aim is to increase the capacity of the schools with which we work to offer higher learning possibilities for their pupils. All the schools surrounding our project sites are severely resource limited with classes that are over-crowded and lacking educational materials. Our projects therefore focus on: school building and refurbishment to create improved learning environments; resource provision of educational materials needed to enhance lessons, and teacher assistance to help teachers plan and run lessons more effectively. All programmes are operated in agreement with the school in question, and with approval from relevant educational boards.
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