Filling the gap between theory and application using Anthologies - Ayanda Mtsatse

“Providing books and teaching teachers how to teach reading isn’t sexy, but neither is plumbing. Both are necessary for improvement – even in the ‘digital revolution space.’” (Nic Spaull, 2019)

The problem is that there are not a lot of isiXhosa books available for young children. Few schools have sets of graded readers in isiXhosa to use in Group Guided reading. To address this problem, Funda Wande partnered with the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDoE) and the Molteno Project to compile three anthologies of graded readers. Each anthology contains 22 VulaBula stories (66 stories in all). The ECDoE has printed these and distributed them to 824,345 children in grades 1-3. Because of the large print run and the fact that only one cover is needed per anthology, the anthologies cost an amazing R8 each! Now every child in the Eastern Cape has a book of stories to read in class, and to take home to read. And next year they will get another one!

The ECDoE invited us to design and teach teachers how to use the anthologies to teach reading for meaning in foundation phase. The training was independently evaluated, and a very positive outcome was reported by Prof Yael Shalem from Wits.

The 5-day training is conducted twice a year across 4 locations – Port Elizabeth, Queenstown, East London and Mthatha. There are 4 Funda Wande trained facilitators per venue who cover the following topics:

  1. VulaBula Anthologies orientation
  2. Five Big Ideas in reading
    • Phonological Awareness
    • Phonics
    • Vocabulary
    • Oral Reading Fluency
    • Comprehension
  3. CAPS reading activities - Gradual Release
    • Read Aloud
    • Shared reading
    • Group Guided reading using VulaBula anthologies
    • Paired reading using VulaBula anthologies
    • Independent reading using VulaBula anthologies

We may envy our teachers for having long periods of holidays in a year, but we mostly envy their enthusiasm and determination on wanting to expand their knowledge to better our children’s tomorrow. Attending Anthology training during their breaks illustrates that our teachers not only recognize the importance of teaching reading with meaning, but they also want knowledge on how to do it. And that is the uniqueness of our anthology training – applied learning. In our training, teachers learn through mindful activities, functional games, and watching Funda Wande’s videos of teachers and children interacting in class (and no! It is not acting).

The training is accessible to teachers through registration with the Teacher Development Learning institutions under the ECDoE. Teachers can also contact Subject Advisors about registering for the ECDoE Reading for Meaning – Vula Bula Anthology (isiXhosa) Training.

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