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Volunteer Overseas

Projects Abroad team tackles illiteracy in South African townships

In September, we celebrated International Literacy Day and were reminded of the millions of people with low literacy skills around the world, often due to a simple lack of exposure to books or even basic materials. With this in mind, we came together as an organisation to collect and donate over 400 educational items, including stationery, books, puzzles, and games, to four of our partner care centres in the Vrygrond Township in Cape Town.

Children play with their new educational games with the help of a staff member

At our Care Projects, our focus is on early childhood development and in South Africa we have a strong emphasis on improving literacy. The level of literacy in South Africa is very low, with 58% of children aged 9-10 being unable to understand what they are reading, and 29% completely illiterate. This is because many children do not have access to books or libraries that would provide them with the necessary skills early on in life.

“I was thrilled when the team in Cape Town contacted me with their literacy drive idea, and even more so when I learned of the huge amount of educational materials they managed to gather. The care centres where the materials were donated are under-resourced and underfunded and will benefit a great deal from this incredibly generous donation,” says Harry Kent, country director for Projects Abroad South Africa.

Families in the township do not have enough money to pay fees and the care centres do not receive outside funding to buy educational materials. This is why a donation even as small as a pencil or notebook can mean a great deal to both the children living in the townships and the teachers who are responsible for their education.

“The items donated will help with the early childhood development of the children by helping them with their reading, writing and fine motor skills, such as coordination. It also teaches them how to share with one another and care for the stuff they have been given,” says Candice Mkosana, principal at In His Footsteps Educare, “Many of the children also do not understand English so the books are important for language development and the pictures will help them remember the English words easily. Hopefully, this will encourage the children to stay in school.”

A group photo of Projects Abroad staff and Penny Way from Butterfly Way Educare

“Literacy is an area that we are working to improve at our partner care centres and there is no doubt that these materials will help our volunteers continue their great work. We thank our colleagues and welcome any future donation initiatives,” says Harry.

Find out more about Care Project in South Africa to see how you can contribute, or take a look at how you can make a difference at one of our wide range of  Care Projects around the world.

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