Stellenzicht Secondary School Reading Project
There is an African saying that states "It takes a village to raise a child". Or, in the case of Jamestown just outside of Stellenbosch, the community is working together to assist not only one child but a lot of children from a local school. This help is focused on a single aspect namely reading and comprehension skills, but with enough external support, it will have far-reaching consequences for Stellenzicht Secondary school learners.

Proud Partners decided to lend just such support in the form of a donation, to better the lives of these children.
Headmaster Mr Lester Allies with some of his pupils
History
Social media, SMS-language and often a lack of proper education, contribute to the drastic decline in basic language skills in learners, where full sentences, spelling and comprehension of language are completely lost. A large percentage of learners in our country start their secondary education with a severe disadvantage - not only in Afrikaans, but in all their subjects. 

In 2015, the Friends of Stellenzicht (headed by Dale Simons), headmaster Lester Allies and his staff decided to spare some time for extra Afrikaans reading, comprehension and spelling periods for grades 8 and 9.

  A year later, Alfred Christians, a retired teacher and resident of Jamestown, was appointed to present additional classes and they identified over 60 grade 8’s and 9’s that would require individual attention. Another Jamestown resident, Ria Engelbrecht, heard of the project and has been involved as a volunteer since May 2016.

A shortage of teachers and a lack of time have hampered the reading project several times, but Ria and Alfred came up with a plan of action.  In cooperation with the subject staff they selected learners in need of additional help, and set a clear structure in place to establish a disciplined work space.  Initial hesitation due to peer pressure and stigmatization made room for increasing pride and enthusiasm, and more and more learners spontaneously report for help.  Today many learners are reaping the benefits of Ria and Alfred's hard work.
Ria Engelbrecht & Justin Julies
Mnr Alfred Christians & Bradley Moses
Mnr Alfred Christians teaching his class
The Reading Project
The program consists of two components:

1. Supplementary learning activities which consists of  group lessons and individual lessons.
Group lessons are presented by Mr Christians and include reading aloud, completing crossword puzzles and regular spelling and comprehension tests.  Mrs Engelbrecht intensively assists 12 individual learners with a severe reading disability on a one-to-one basis. As no two learners are on the same level each lesson is adapted to each student’s personal ability and level of progress.

2. Extra-curricular activities consisting of Competitions, WOW (Words Open Worlds) spelling and reading activities.

Competitions
Proud Partner's sponsorship this year will be used to create funds for three competitions (StellenSpel 2, StellenStorie and StellenDig) as well as StellenBundel - a bundle of the best short stories and poems illustrated by two of the school's top art students.
Due to our donation, lovely prizes are at stake this year: cellphones for all the grade winners, gift vouchers, books, certificates for all semi-finalists and publication in StellenBundel later this year.

The aim of the Reading Project is to especially support and uplift learners who need extra tuition, but also to motivate those students who have the potential to excel. We launched our spelling competition StellenSPEL in 2017. It was met with unprecedented enthusiasm by the learners and this year the competition snowballed with even more participants from Grades 8 – 10 all vying for top honors.

 In addition to StellenSpel, the school will also launch StellenStorie - their very first short story competition for Grades 8 to 12; StellenDig - a poetry competition for Grades 8 to 12: and StellenBundel - their first collection of short stories and poems. Watch this space!

Proud Partners salute passionate South Africans such as Alfred and Ria.  Due to their enthusiasm this project is fast becoming one of Jamestown’s greatest success stories.
  

  
Some of the Grade 11 top achievers were judges
  
Grade 10 winner​ Verenique Cloete receives her prize

Grade 10 winner Verenique Cloete


Grade 8 winner Joshua Hendriks

Mr Alfred Christians, Ria Engelbrecht, patroness Isabel Verwey & Headmaster Lester Allies with Grade 9 winners Naytano Adonis & Néna Schroeder.
​These top 2 finalists in Grade 9 went head to head and outspelled all the words that were given them. The judges had to find even more difficult words and finally, during round 34, Isabel Verwey from Proud Partners intervened and declared both learners winners.  They each received a cellphone – to the delight of everyone!  
  
Grade 8-finalists: Back row: Alfred Christians, Alayshe Arnolds (2nd), Mckyla Elbrink (4th) & Tarryn Lottering (5th), Ria Engelbrecht
        Front row: Ashwin Jansen (3rd) & Joshua Hendriks (winner)
 
  
The grade 9 finalists: Back row: Lamecia Strydom (4th), Jame-Lee Matthee (3rd) & Ashlin le Roux (5th)
           Front row: Alfred Christians, Néna Schroeder (winner),  Ria Engelbrecht
 
  
 Grade 10 finalists:  Back row: Garren Joubert (2nd), Verenique Cloete (winner), Maxine Manuel (5th) & Keanu Fortuin (3rd)
                   Front row:  Alfred Christians, Indiphile Mahlikihla (4th),  Ria Engelbrecht
 
  
In the Media