Disadvantaged South African Children To Benefit From English Language Skills Development With New Zealand Help

  • Simon Upton
Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

New Zealand will fund a major English language skills project for schoolchildren in one of the poorest areas of South Africa the Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Hon Simon Upton, announced today.

The project, which will be carried out over three years in the Whittlesea area of the Eastern Cape, will cost over $1.5 million and will be provided under New Zealand's Official Development Assistance programme. Whittlesea is in the heart of the former Ciskei, one of the so-called "homelands" during the apartheid period.

"Over 35,000 children are expected to benefit from this programme", Mr Upton said. "This is a big commitment for New Zealand which fits well with President Mandela's request for outside help in meeting the educational needs of black students who were severely disadvantaged under
apartheid".

The project will be implemented by the READ Educational Trust, a South African non-governmental organisation which has established relationships with leading New Zealand educationists and publishers.

"I was particularly pleased to learn that a number of the learning modules in the READ English skills programme are using "Sunshine Books" produced by the Wendy Pye Group who are based in Auckland", Mr Upton said. "In addition READ have worked with Professor William Elley,
formerly of Canterbury University, who developed the evaluation procedures for assessing the impact of READ programmes".

READ trained students have been shown to achieve English reading and comprehension skills well in advance of their peers.

"Although we are making an input at the basic level of education the ultimate aim is that these children will be given the means to go on and make the most of their prospects for higher education and employment", Mr Upton said.

Other assistance for education in Africa which has recently been approved under the ODA programme includes a grant for the rehabilitation of primary schools affected by the refugee influxes in western Tanzania.

$150,000 has been provided to UNICEF for the project in the Kasulu and Ngara areas near Tanzania's borders with Rwanda and Burundi. School furniture and fittings were used for firewood by the refugees (who currently number about 375,000).