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Thank you madam chair

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    Thank you madam chair. Good morning ladies and gentlemen. The title of the presentation is Soshanguve Family Literacy Service: a forwarding step to true African Renaissance.

    When we talk of the Renaissance of Africa, we speak of advances in science and technology, development and flowering of knowledge and a blossoming of the arts in Africa. It is a break from the long held dogma that still weighs down the African mind and spirit, declaring that Africans are incapable of initiative, creativity, individuality, and entrepreneurship.It means a break from oppressive historical legacy of poverty, hunger, backwardness and marginalisation in the struggle to economic regeneration. We have come together in this conference on Higher Education and Economic Regeneration organised by Tabeisa knowing that the knowledge and material resources exist in human society today to overcome and eradicate poverty, illiteracy and underdevelopment in Africa.

    The formation of Tabeisa in itself is a declaration of hope that the leadership of countries of the world is committed to eradicate poverty, achieve sustained economic growth and promote sustainable development as we advance to a true Renaissance of Africa and inclusive and equitable global economic system thus facilitating improvement of people”s lives everywhere, through sustainable development. We do not accept that human society should be constructed on the basis of savage animalistic principles of the survival of the fittest – dog eat dog world, you snooze you loose, kill or be killed.We belief that humans should support one another. We are happy that such a formidable force, Tabeisa exist that partners and networks with African institutions in the work of economic regeneration and the development of Africa, especially through the twin programmes of Technology and Entrepreneurship.

    Knowledge and material resources the world has for economic regeneration and development. The question that is to be answered is what is to be done to deploy these powerful intellectual and material resources so that poverty, illiteracy and underdevelopment in Africa becomes a thing of the past.On 6-10 December 1999 the eve of the launching of the African Renaissance project African ministers of education gathered in Johannesburg – South Africa to assess the continent’s specific challenges and priorities and chart the way forward to true African Renaissance. At the end of the meeting, a framework for action was adopted.

    The framework for action was that education is the sine quo non for empowering the people of Africa to participate and benefit in the globalized economy of the 21st century.The ministers noted that progress in Africa or renaissance of Africa could not be achieved if masses of African people continue to be in languishing in poverty and illiteracy. They urged a concerted effort to promoting integration of education into the family and the community. September 2000, saw the largest-ever gathering of world leaders at the United Nations Millennium Development Summit, with some 150 heads of State or government participating.

    The summit addressed major global challenges such as how to pull over 1 billion people out of extreme poverty, to develop strategies to reduce joblessness among youth and promote social progress and better standards of life through education and training United Nations, 2002. Within a year, the people of Africa responded to these challenges by forming the African Union. The African Union is Africa’s practical and determined response to its past and present, in favour of development, education and prosperity. Its socio-economic revitalization of the continent is the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Nepad.

    Nepad has a forceful mandate to eradicating poverty and underdevelopment throughout Africa in the context of education and training Mbeki, 2002. The recently held World Summit on Sustainable Development hosted in Johannesburg reaffirmed these aspirations when the world leaders came out with a resolution to poverty reduction and development through education and training. These positive development by the leadership of the world particularly from African leaders offer better conditions for all to use our skills and expertise so that we can make our humble contribution to the development of our continent.Soshanguve Family Literacy Services It is against this background that we in this conference to report that we have in a small and humble way contributed to the development of Africa by initiating the Soshanguve Family Literacy Project in Soshanguve.

    .. The Soshanguve family literacy program is a direct response to the parent survey research we undertaken in the community of Soshanguve. The survey research was sponsored by Technikon Northern Gauteng Research Capacity Building Programmes.

    The survey research findings indicated that – though most parents have reached junior secondary schooling i. . std6-std 8 they do not facilitate and support the education of their children, especially at the critical age of 0-3 years.The time when whatever information the child receives, have a tremendous impact to the future of the child.

    It is amazing that at the age of 3 years the child’s brain is unfathomable in terms of its intricacy and power. It defies even the modern computer technology. It is capable of processing up to 30 billion bits of information per second and it boasts the equivalent of 6,000 miles of wiring and cabling.This incredible computer, the child’s brain is only waiting for programming from parents.

    It is not enough to have a good a computer – you must also have a good computer programmer Robbins, 1992. This explains why the illiterate people continue to be illiterate, the rich gets richer and the poorer get poorer. Why? Because water can not rise above its level. Through observations, you might have noted that in most instances children who come from low literate families eventually do not rise above this level of illiteracy from generation to generation.

    Parents play a crucial role in the future of their children.It is within the bosom of the parent that values are handed down from one generation to another generation. Parents are the most powerful support network there is where the cycle of learning begins. Parents are their children’s first and foremost teachers NCFL, 1996.

    Family literacy programs are proven intervention programs that can solve this problem by empowering the parents to instil educational values to their children. It has been proven countless of times that activities like side by side reading, reading aloud, storytelling are tools which develop the child’ literacy at an early age.Once the parents can be made aware of this activities the impact is enormous, not only to the child but to the whole economy. Structure of the Soshanguve Family Literacy project The Soshanguve Family literacy program ran for a period of 12 months.

    October 2001 to August 2002. Throughout this ten months it has educated and emancipated over 200 learners. Adults who participated in the program are teen parents. It takes 30 learners parents and their children 0-8 on a rotational basis.

    The program is offered monthly on Saturdays.In each program session, the following literacy categories are covered: 1. Financial literacy In this workshop, the subjects of credit control, budgeting and frugal living are dealt with. Frugal tips and ideas to get more for your dollar, save money, and have more for less.

    Being frugal is not just about saving money, it is a way of life. 2. Childhood Education In this workshop, parents are engaged in their children’s educational programs in order foster involvement that will be maintained throughout the child’s educational career. 3.

    Parent Education This is an interactive workshop forms the core of the entire program. It is lively interaction and discussion with instructions on how children grow, develop, and learn. It addresses issues critical to family well-being, connects parents with community resources, and provides opportunities for parents to network and develop mutual support systems. The Soshanguve Family Literacy project began in February 2002 and ended until recently in September 2002.

    During these 8 months, we were able to reach close to 200 learners. Presently we are looking at measures to sustain it.Conclusion Community family literacy initiatives works for many reasons * Parents become active participants in their children”s education and are better prepared to take the role as their children”s first teachers * Parents are able to share challenges and to support one another. * Parents have the chance to reach their educational goals and gain valuable skills needed for job opportunities.

    * Parents learn to blend work and educational activities. * Children, growing under educationally empowered parents become better prepared to be successful students as they continue their education. Families grow together through learning and shared experiences.* Build upon family strengths and strengthen mother-child bond A truly integrated approach to literacy cannot just teach adults to read.

    It must be devoted to equally to raising children to be enthusiastic, regular readers. Family literacy programs are about community empowerment, support and hope. Once parents realize their role as children”s important teachers, and are made to realize the importance and value of education, the impact on the children is enormous Minnis, 2001.It is through efforts such as these that will end the condition that describes African people as the wretched of the earth, daily burdened and crushed by the most intolerable and dehumanizing poverty and unfathomable illiteracy.

    It is crucial that those of us, who are better equipped with expertise, skills and resources, should go an extra mile in reaching the poor, illiterate and underdeveloped who happen to live in poorly resourced areas in the townships, informal settlements and remote areas of our country.

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