Upgraded room will give pupils chance to shine

The room where Shine Literacy runs its programmes at Kewtown Primary School has been given a revamp. From left, are Woolworths representatives Pauline Rennie and Sally Munro, Shine Literacy founder Maurita Weissenberg, Kewtown Primary principal Cecil Balie and Shine chapter manager Sue Taylor.

Pupils in a literacy programme at Kewtown Primary School can now get the help they need in a child-friendly, brightly painted room, thanks to a helping hand from a big retailer.

On Thursday April 25, the members of Shine Literacy unveiled the revamped room at Kewtown Primary School, much to the delight of all those present.

Kewtown Primary School principal Cecil Balie praised the Shine Literacy team.

“They are amazing volunteers. They connect with the child on a one-on-one basis, and this is not just about learning, it is also a safe space for the pupils. This is where our children are being nurtured and inspired.

“We have definitely seen the positive changes among our pupils who are part of the programme. They are more confident. This programme really supports the pupils – where in class they are 40, here they get the individual attention they need,” Mr Balie said.

Founder of Shine Literacy Maurita Weissenberg is a former remedial teacher. Shine came about after she helped her domestic worker’s 10-year-old grandson in 1998, after he had failed the year for a second time.

Ms Weissenberg approached a school in Observatory to enrol him.

“I said if they enrol him, I will help him and anyone in his class that needed help. I ended up volunteering for two years there,” she said.

Ms Weissenberg went on to start Shine in 2000 with 30 pupils.

Now there are Shine Centres in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

“The idea is to create a safe space for children where we meet them where they are – at their own pace and space. Among our success stories are pupils who took two years to read level 1, and now three of them have been offered scholarships in Grade 7,” she said.

Grade 1s at all Shine schools are evaluated at the end of the year to see who needs help with their reading.

The programme is aimed at Grade 2s and Grade 3s.

“A teacher cannot read with you everyday. Many parents don’t see it as their role to read for their children, and many are not literate themselves,” Ms Weissenberg said.

“Just like when you are learning to drive a car, you need someone to sit next to you. Similarly, when it comes to teaching a child to read, you need to sit down and read with a child.”

She said the first pupils in the programme to matriculate were now studying at tertiary level, except for one who has a full-time job.