At Mkoba 4 Primary School in Gweru, Zimbabwe, particular support is provided by ALERT and Antelope Park to support the school’s Special Needs classes. Staff and project volunteers assist class teachers by providing pupils with individual attention during lessons, assessing students' work, and helping to produce effective teaching aids. Material support is also given, through maintenance and facility upgrades, as well as the provision of equipment such as computers, books, stationery, and sports gear.
A recent mathematics lesson taught students about expansion; writing down a number by showing the value of each of its individual digits. Students were told that this is ‘spreading out’ or ‘pulling apart’ the number. To make this concept easier to understand, examples were written on the board.
134 = 100 + 30 + 4
593 = 500 + 90 + 3
Next, students were put into small groups to work on expansion problems together, before being asked to have a go at tackling some individually. Initially, most struggled but, with practice, were able to grasp the idea. Individual attention was given to the few students who were still having difficulty.
The following lesson focused on basic addition and subtraction. Flash cards showing addition and subtraction problems were held up for the students to shout out the correct answers. They enjoyed this task and performed well.
Practical and material support is also provided to the Mickey Mouse Pre-school in Gweru, where children recently spent a lesson colouring. Although an apparently simple task, allowing students time to colour in pictures has many benefits for pre-school children, including:
- Improved fine motor skills
- Development of hand-eye coordination
- Focus and concentration
- Recognition of shape, colour and pattern
Another lesson taught children the names of different body parts. To keep the learning age-appropriate, the children sang and carried out the actions to the song “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”. After that, a mathematics lesson focused on matching numbers. Using visual aids, the children matched numbers to pictures, for example: the number 3 to an image of three chickens.
The first term of 2017 has now come to a close in Zimbabwe. Over the last few months, the students have been attentive, made improvements in their work, and - most importantly - have demonstrated a strong willingness to learn.
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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