An update on progress from Mkoba 4 Primary School’s Special Needs class
March 10 2017

At Mkoba 4 Primary School in Gweru, Zimbabwe, particular support is provided by ALERT and Antelope Park to assist in the school’s Special Needs classes.  With one qualified teacher to host a class of children with a variety of learning disabilities, aged between nine and 14, this practical help is appreciated.  The classes aim to provide more individual attention to these students, helping them to achieve the standards required for national educational assessment.

Following individual assessments, the Special Needs Class currently consists of 20 students divided into two groups according to ability.  

Recent mathematics lessons have focused on teaching students how to arrange numbers correctly in sequence.  Firstly, they looked at numbers from high to low.  The children were tasked with putting a selection of two and three digit numbers in the right order from the greatest to the least, before answering a series of questions in which they had to arrange other numbers correctly.  The majority of students grasped the concept quite easily, so the next lesson moved on to arranging numbers from the smallest to highest.

The following topic was ordinal numbers; a number that tells the position of something in a list, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.  The objective of the lesson was for students to learn ordinal numbers from 1st up to 10th.  Having been given an explanation of what ordinal numbers are and how they are used, the students were asked to form a queue in single file and state their position in the line, ‘I am third’, ‘I am fourth’.  Next, they were given a series of sentences to complete by filling in the gaps, which included:

  1. First, ____ third, fourth.
  2. The third day of the week is _____.
  3. The sixth month of the year is ____.

In English, the children in Group One read stories entitled “Netsai and Mary” and “A Day at School” from the New Primary English textbook.  To assess their understanding of the text, they were asked questions about what they had read and answered comprehension questions in their workbooks.  A spelling test followed in which the students performed well; a positive step forward, as this group often struggles with spelling.  

In Group Two, the stories were “Clothes for Work and School” and “Helping in the Garden” also from the New Primary English textbook.  Comprehension questions were first answered orally and then students wrote the answers in their workbooks.  Another book, “The Dube Family”, was read and used for spelling practice, first orally and then different words were dictated to write correctly in their workbooks.  The results of both tasks indicated that this group are also making improvements in written English and spelling.

Next, both groups worked together to learn how to tell the time, focusing on “o’clock” and “half past”.  Taking turns, students had to demonstrate different times on a clock face; three o’clock, half past one, etc.  They were then tasked with drawing clock faces and writing the correct times down.  The majority of students struggled with this, so the lesson will be repeated.

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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