Parents and learners’ stories

What do some of our learners think about their lessons?

“Can you come twice a week?”

“I have fun doing reading activities.”

“I’ll never be away from school the day you come.”

“I get help to learn and the people are loving and caring.”

What do some of our parents say about our programme?

“At home my son is being called an English teacher because of his tremendous English.”

“In 2012 my son received a prize for improved English”

“I can see a big improvement from the time he started.”

“His report and behaviour is good.”

“Neema is there to help those who can’t afford to pay the high fees for the tuition.“

Sipho’s Story – A life transformed through Gateway into Reading

Sipho was repeating Grade 1 in a local school which referred him to Neema for extra help with his reading. At first, he was very unsure of himself – unhappy and lonely. His teacher reported that, soon after starting at Neema, “he was coming to school with a smile on his face. His homework started getting done and a huge difference was noticed in his fluency when reading. His confidence and interest level have improved and he now contributes readily on the mat during class discussions. His general approach is one of enthusiasm and, for the first time ever, he has been getting 100% in his Friday spelling tests. This has boosted his self-esteem, and he now takes part in extra mural activities at school. I have no doubt that it is definitely thanks to the keen and dedicated , hard-working Neema team who have helped Sipho gain confidence and have equipped him with the necessary building blocks that he will need throughout his school career. Sipho goes happily to Neema and never misses his extra lessons.”

Sipho is now in Grade 4. He completed our reading programme and now comes weekly for help with his comprehension, grammar and vocabulary. He reads beautifully and we are so proud of him!

When Sipho first came to Neema he was very difficult to work with – angry and rebellious. He mentioned one day that he didn’t have a father. We were able to share with him how he could experience God as a Father who would never leave him. We believe God changed his life that day as he realised the relationship he could have with his Heavenly Father. We gave him a Bible and the headmistress of the school commented on how, when he was waiting for us to collect him, he would sit on the school verandah reading his Bible. It is exciting for us here at Neema that, not only is he reading, but that he is choosing to read the Bible!

When interviewed, Sipho’s mom said she had noticed a change in Sipho since he started at Neema. She said that his behaviour at home was much improved and that this had had a positive effect on their whole home environment.

Thandi’s story

Thandi’s mom, Joy, is a widow and domestic worker here in Kloof. A friend told her about Neema – that we teach children who couldn’t otherwise afford extra lessons. We assessed Thandi at the beginning of 2011 and found that, because of severe learning barriers, she was several years behind in her reading ability. She attended our lessons for two years and has benefitted greatly from her faithful attendance! We admire her perseverance in walking here regularly – in all kinds of weather. Thandi, we are SO proud of you and of all the progress you have made.

A Letter from Thandi’s mother

I am Joy Zulu. My daughter, Thandi, attends Neema. Neema has helped me so much with Thandi because she was battling with her reading. Neema has helped me a lot with her because I, as her mother, am not educated and have not always been able to help her with her homework. Sometimes she uses her Neema exercise book to find the right way to pronounce a word. I don’t have to worry so much now because Neema is there to help me and my daughter. Thank you Neema and all the helpers there. God loves you and we do too.” (Joy and Thandi Zulu.)

Well done, Benedict!

The staff at KJP recommended that Benedict, son of a domestic worker, should attend Neema for help with his reading. In spite of his learning barriers, he has improved greatly over the last two years here with us.

SMS from his mom after prize giving:

“Benedict won a prize for the most outstanding progress in Gr. 3 and another certificate for excellent progress. He also got a trophy! He is sooooo chuffed and we are all so proud! Thank you for all your work with him this past year! We want him to come to you in the new year.”

Some good news from Caiden’s family!

Caiden spent 22 months going through the programme because he was having difficulty with his reading. When his mom shared his latest school report we were excited to see that his reading and comprehension have now progressed to being average and above average in his grade at school. We are SO proud of you, Caiden! A BIG well done from us all. The only sad part is that we will miss Caiden next year as he no longer needs to study with us – but he has promised to come back and visit us.

Thabo’s Story

Thabo is an intelligent Gr. 6 learner struggling to reach his full potential at school because of an attention deficit disorder.   His parents are domestic workers here in Kloof and are unable to afford the individual remedial help he needs.

For about a term now he has been coming to lessons where he follows a program with 3 different teachers, catering for his specific needs.  His latest results showed that he had made considerable progress in various learning areas, which excited the team greatly. Well done Thabo, you are such a pleasure to work with and we’re proud of you!

What does Thabo’s mother think about Neema?

“I am so pleased with Neema because it helps children like my son and is making a real difference in his life.”

We celebrate the difference in Samuel’s life

When Samuel started with Neema in Grade 6, he was struggling to read some Grade 1 words because of a learning barrier. He had repeated a class and had spent time in a remedial school. His self-confidence was extremely low. By the time he had been on the Gateway into Reading programme for 8 months, his spelling age had gone up 2 years. In Grade 7, he passed English for the first time with an uncondoned pass. Only once during the examination did he make use of a reading concession and ask for a word to be read to him. He passed his comprehension as well and is now coping in High School.

What did Samuel have to say about his experience?

“Before Neema,I was embarrassed to read because I didn’t know how to and I didn’t want the class to laugh at me. At one point I wondered if perhaps I was brain damaged. Before an exam, I hated the though of writing my exam because I didn’t know how to read the questions. I felt as if I didn’t have much support. I love maths but I couldn’t understand problem-solving because I couldn’t read the questions properly. I didn’t know how to pronounce words.

Then I did the Neema reading course which was hard at the beginning but now seems much easier. I must say I don’t feel embarrassed to read out loud in class. My descriptive and passage writing has excelled in all areas. My spelling and understanding of words has improved hugely. It was hard to read a book before I went to Neema but now its much easier to understand what I’m reading. Now I actually enjoy reading because I understand the story. Exams are much easier because I understand the questions I have been asked.

Partnering with staff at Ukusakwabasha Primary School

Neema staff and volunteers have been privileged to partner with the dedicated principal and teachers here for the past 3 years. We have been using Gateway into Reading to not only teach whole classes of learners but also to provide on-the-job training for teachers in the use of our material.

We started our lessons from the beginning of our syllabus and modelled the lessons for the grade 1 class teacher for a year before leaving her to teach on her own the following year as we moved up with the class to train the grade 2 teacher in the second year of our syllabus. This is will be repeated until our whole syllabus is completed by the end of grade 4.

We are inspired by the dedication of the teachers who have practised with the learners between our weekly lessons and have made the most of our audio lessons when needed.

Encouraging results

The following results are from an assessment Neema staff administered with a class of grade 2s recently. The second column records the results of this year’s grade 2 class which has been taught GiR solely by school staff since the beginning of grade 1. The second column of results is for exactly the same assessment last year with a class taught by our Neema teachers since the beginning of grade 1.

Encouraging comments

Mrs Gumede – grade 2 teacher : “This is the first year ever that my grade 2 learners have been able to read English in their other subjects without being told the words first.”

Mrs Gabela – HOD of the Foundation Phase: “You brought light to our young ones for the rest of their lives. May God bless you all.”

Mr Ngidi Principal – “In the government examinations at the end of last year, our grade 5s (who have followed your programme ) achieved at a higher level academically than our grade 7s who have never done your Gateway into Reading lessons.”

The Neema Foundation is grateful to the educators at Ukusakwabasha for all their support in this project. Our experience in this amazing school has been invaluable!