Education Matters in Gweru
July 14 2016

Mkoba 4 Special Needs Class

In the special needs class, the teacher requested our assistance to undertake a thorough revision of specific parts of the curriculum with which students had been struggling.  In English, revision exercises focused on comprehension, phonics and sentence formation.  A variety of methods and exercises were used to aid understanding for the students, including a lot of one-on-one teaching to individual students who needed extra attention. 

Meanwhile, the topic of currency was still being learnt in mathematics, but students have shown that they still need more work in this area.  Therefore, we assisted the teacher with the subject, in a lesson focused on comparative signs (greater than, less than, and equals signs), and the value of money.

During the next lesson on the four mathematical operations; addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, each volunteer was assigned two or three students by the teacher to work with.  All groups started with simple problems of addition, gradually increasing in complexity, before moving on to subtraction problems.

Vertical subtraction, with the concept of borrowing and adding, proved to be difficult for the students to understand and as a result, a lot of time was spent on this topic.  Only a few students managed to understand the lesson on complex subtraction.  These students will now move on and learn about multiplication, while the rest will continue on with subtraction.

Mickey Mouse Preschool

In learning through play, the next generation of students were given lessons on:

  • Shape identity: being under the age of five, the children are required to be able to identify squares, circles, triangles, rectangles.
  • Letters of the alphabet: the alphabet song is used to teach this.
  • Identifying objects from pictures (picture reading): at this stage, the children are not expected to be able to read, but should be able to identify objects from a picture.
  • Learning colours: red, black, green, white, blue, yellow, purple, orange (balloons were used to help children learn the different colours).
  • A puppet show was performed and students had to identify the different animals represented by the puppets.

‘Edutainment’ is the way to go when teaching these young minds, and all students not only thoroughly enjoyed the lessons but grasped the concepts well.

Mudavanhu School for the Disabled

12 of the students were selected by the School to be the first candidates for Horse Therapy at Antelope Park. Wednesday June 29th was a historic moment which brought together the local community and stables volunteers, as they worked together for the first ever session.

The aim of the first lesson was for interaction between the students and the horses.  This introduction was characterised by mixed feelings and reactions.  Some students were petrified of going anywhere near the horse, while some students were very bold and could not wait to approach the horse to touch it.  After a lot of encouragement, the students who were afraid became more confident, and eventually followed the path of the braver students and went on to pet the horses.

Moving forward, this first group of students will be visiting stables every Wednesday for more interaction with horses. 

About Mkoba 4 Primary School

The Government run Mkoba 4 Primary School provides education for approximately 2,200 students.  Our work here currently focusses on assisting the teacher of the school’s Special Needs Class.  The school currently has one qualified teacher to host the class of 24 children, aged 9-14 years, with a variety of learning disabilities.  Whilst the teacher delivers the national curriculum in a specialized manner appropriate for the needs of these children, staff and volunteers provide children with individual attention that helps the child to focus on what they are being taught and giving them a better understanding of the lesson.

About Mickey Mouse Pre-School

The pre-school currently serves 230 children, aged 3-5 years, with 7 qualified teachers, and 10 student teachers.  The school has no specific catchment area, and offers places to those in the Mkoba area for a fee of $20 per month.  The school offers a social and educational programme to prepare young children for school.  It does so using the national curriculum, with prescribed educational content and assessment, to ensure children are able to master basic skills, such as language development, before their entrance into Grade 1 at school.  The school has challenges regarding the volume of students and the number of available teaching staff, as well as limited resources.

About Mudavanhu School for the Disabled

This school specializes in providing essential life skills and education for children with mild to moderate mental disability.  The school currently has 24 children and 8 full-time members of staff.  Some children are boarded at the school, some at a hostel a little distance from the school, and some are day students.  The school provides life skills classes in self-care (e.g. toileting, feeding, self-hygiene, name recognition) and managing a home (e.g. laundry, cooking, hygiene, safety), as well as education in literacy, maths, science, computing, sports, and vocational projects (e.g. gardening, sewing, arts & crafts).  All lessons are designed to meet the national curriculum where possible, but mainly to facilitate coordination, movement, cognition, and give children the skills and coping mechanisms to integrate into mainstream society, where possible.  Children are assessed and streamed into levels in accordance with ability rather than chronological age.

The individual demands of students can be very high (especially at level 1), and available resources are scarce, expensive, and not always optimal for delivering the skills necessary for this school to meet its aims easily and optimally.  The school achieves some self-generated revenue through the selling of crafts made by the children as part of their facilitated education.

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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