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. To ensure students are given the level of support they need, the class is divided into three groups: learners in group one receive the most support, group two students are of average level, while those in group three are the most advanced.
As telling the time has been the focus in mathematics lessons recently, students were set an exercise to determine how much of the topic they had understood and remembered so far. They were given five clock faces showing different times and were asked to choose the correct time for each one from a set of options. All managed to do so easily. Next, clock faces were drawn on the board and the students were tasked with orally telling the time. Again, they coped well with this exercise. Slightly trickier for some of the children was working out the difference in hours between two given times. With extra support, all were eventually able to master working out time differences of up to 12 hours with over half achieving 100% correct answers. To ensure that students retain this knowledge, the topic will be revisited again in future lessons.
In English, a familiar story, “Connie and the Kittens”, was reread. Using words learnt previously, for example ‘black’, ‘morning’, ‘night’, and ‘play’, students were asked to construct a series of sentences. Help was needed to correct problems with grammar as a result of translating some sentences directly from Shona to English, for example “I was sleep at the bedroom”.
Group One read a book entitled, “Water, Water” several times before orally answering comprehension questions to determine their understanding the story, and then spelling words such as ‘water’, ‘bucket’, and ‘people’. The more advanced readers in Group Two read a factual book about rain, achieving over 70% of correct answers in their spelling test of words including ‘clothes’, ‘farmer’, and ‘dance’. Both groups then performed well during an exercise to complete the end of a range of sentences correctly.
Practical and material support is also provided to the Mickey Mouse Pre-school in Gweru, where children aged five and six have been following instructions to colour in a flower using specific colours. They were also shown how to draw a giraffe using their hands as a stencil. Again, they used specified colours to decorate their design. Developing an appreciation for art at a young age promotes creative thinking, aids brain development and critical thinking skills, and boosts self-esteem and self-expression. These children will now be moving on to Grade One in January 2018.
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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