Madiba Day 2018

On the 18th July we celebrated the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela with the Grade 4s.

Since his story is included in their Social Studies curriculum and most of them already have copies of The long walk to freedom we decided to run a competition for the celebration. Everyone received an exercise book with a picture to colour and a word maze to complete and many empty pages in which to write the story of Madiba’s life or to write a poem or a song. They could also draw more pictures and decorate the book. And they had to write their plans for spending the 67 minutes doing something for someone else.

In spite of misgivings from some teachers most of them participated and received one of the new R5 coins as proof of that. There were also prizes for best story in Sepedi, best story in English, best poem, best song, best picture, best 67 minutes plans and best book overall.


Madiba Magic


Competition prize winners


The winning team of the quiz


Cupcakes from Derdepark (as usual)


Koos and Lungelo also celebrated their birthdays on the 18th

2017 success in numbers

We had a bumper year with 212 learners on the programme in grades R – 3.

The 54 Grade 3s were particularly successful. Between them they completed 2568 Reading Eggs lessons, 2339 Mathseeds lessons and read 1391 books.

Per learner that boils down to 48 Reading Eggs lessons, 43 Mathseeds lessons and 26 books read.

The 66 Grade 2 learners completed 2064 Reading Eggs lessons and 1784 Mathseeds lessons. They read 720 books.

Per learner that was 31 Reading Eggs lessons, 27 Mathseeds lessons and 11 books read.

The Grade 1 learners only took part in Reading Eggs. Between the 71 of them they completed 1643 lessons and read 95 books. That was 23 lessons and slightly more than 1 book per learner.

The Grade R class with 21 learners at the Kameeldrift Early Learning Centre completed 247 Reading Eggs lessons, 12 per student.


Reading and the love of reading

The 2017 Child Gauge report has been released recently This annual report coming from the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town gives an overview of the current status of the well being of South Africa’s children under the headings Care, Safety, Health and Nutrition, Education and Inclusion. Based on these findings  goals are set for the following year.

For Education there is only one goal namely Reading needs to be prioritised to ensure that all children have a solid foundation for lifelong learning.

This week the PIRLS2016 results were published ( with even more devastating news: 80% of South African grade 4 learners are unable to read with understanding.

The South African school curriculum sees the first three years as the learning to read phase. During this period learners have to master the reading skills in order to read to learn for the rest of their school careers. Unfortunately far too many children end up being reading illiterate: unable to read fluently and with understanding and therefore unable to benefit from opportunities in the schooling system and elsewhere, unable to function properly in a world filled with text in printed and electronic format.

More than anything the ability to read gives one the opportunity to discover the world through books. To gain knowledge independently and to share in the the wonderful treasure trove of stories. Our school does not have a library and only some of our learners live near a public library. Fortunately the Nalibalis which we receive regularly make up for this to an extent. The beauty of Nalibali is that every story and other bit of text is in two languages. In our case Sepedi and English. The mini-books are made up and handed out to take home and the newspaper part goes to the grade 3s.

Mrs Mpho Padi and her grade 2 class reading Lara, the yellow ladybird/Lara, podilekgwana ye serolane.


Thank you, Nalibali!

Fun days to end the school year

The Grade 2 fun day on 22 November included the usual snakes and ladders tournament, readings by learners from the Bana ba Modimo children’s Bible to demonstrate their reading skills and ice cream to end a very pleasant day.

The grade 1s were treated to stories and ice cream.

The next day the grade 3s enjoyed themselves at evergreen races such as egg-and-spoon, eat-the-marshmallow-with-your-hands-tied and pick-up-cheese-curls-through-a-straw. At lunch time we ate  boerewors rolls which is the South African version of hotdogs and ended with slices of watermelon. Thanks to Derdepark for the sausage, Gabatta for the juice and Ola Oretoria for the ice cream.

The grade 3 class have now come to the end of their RE&MS experience. Some of them we have known since 2014. All of them are our dear children and we will miss them. We send them off  with hope in our hearts that they will reap the benefits during their second school phase when their lessons will be taught in English.


As a farewell gift they each received a copy of the children’s version of Nelson Mandela’s biography Long walk to freedom. These were given to us by Nalibali two years ago. Kamcare sent them off with a brand new school bag.

Literacy in a digital world

This was the theme for the 2017 International Literacy Day ( which was celebrated in September. Literacy, just like everything else, is no longer what it used to be before the rapid and relentless march of information and communication technology. It heeds all of us who are interested and involved in literacy development to reflect on this and to stay abreast with new developments.

“A literate person can read and write, and perhaps also do some arithmetic” used to be the running definition. And these skills are as important as ever because they serve as the basis for an expanding understanding of literacy. Nowadays the word is applied to any set of knowledge and skills which together enable one to master a necessary competence. Think of computer literacy, visual literacy, but also social literacy and cultural literacy. Top of this list is digital literacy – a topic for another day.

What is meant by “a digital world” and how can it enhance literacy?

A digital world is one in which digital devices such as computers, tablets and smart phones in combination with the Internet are used to do things in totally different ways than before. This exciting world, its capabilities and influence over our lives is expanding by the day. It is a world full of information, ideas, opinions, learning, opportunities and connections that is available to everyone 24/7.

The question therefore is How can this digital world further the aims of literacy?

Literacy teaching can be greatly supported by technology although it cannot generally replace a teacher or parent.

In our case we would not have been able to offer this programme without the use of computers and the excellent software which is actually doing the teaching. Because the children do not use computers otherwise at school or at home they are easily enchanted by this learning through play setup.  Each of the 30 children in one class has a one-on-one experience at the appropriate level and pace while at the same time we can give individual attention to those who need it. Even the three of us who cannot speak their language can get by with energetic body language and by rewarding every small success.

In this we have important allies:

Since August our school has a new principal who has IMG_2285abig dreams for the future of the school and every learner. Before coming to Leeuwfontein dr Johan Louw was a director and Project and Training Manager of the Corporate Developement Foundation. His career also includes work at the Department of Education where he was Institutional Development and Support Manager at an earlier stage.


The Butterfly Foundation has been involved with Kamcare for a long time including a donation towards the first computers for our project and school shoes for Leeuwfontein. This group of young people who were friends at university are using their resources and time to support worthy projects ( On Friday 1 September they visited us and brought along five new chromebooks plus mouses and headphones. All indications are that our project will have to expand next year and this well help a lot. Thank you very much, Butterflies!


Stian Veldman, Helien Gous and Lynette Coetzee with their wonderful donation

World Literacy Day 2017

WLDOn 7 September we celebrated World Literacy Day with games, reading, drawing and other word activities. This year’s theme was Literacy in a digital world, very suitable for our line of work but also a concept that needs our serious attention. I will write another post on this.

The grade 1s were treated to a reading of Kwame! a delightful story of forest animals who warn one another about a hungry crocodile. It is the Sepedi version of Joy Cowley’s Snap!, beautifully illustrated by Jan van der Voo.

Koos is an accomplished reader who knows how to involve a group of kids

Kwame2  Kwame

The grade 2s and grade 3s were divided in competing teams and played over-and-under, what-did-I-see?, charades and finding words in a maze.

over and under

Team work is important to win at Over-and-under

What did you see

For this game participants had one minute to memorise the items and then write it down.

Word maze

Finding words in a maze is always a challenge

When we're big

The grade 2s drew pictures of themselves as grownups. Mokgadi wants to become a doctor and the three boys, as can be expected, will become policemen.


Every day is the right day for ice cream.


A German connection

In March Magdalena Pritzl joined our team. She is spending the year in South Africa and fortunately our paths crossed when she was looking for a place to volunteer. (Deutsche Version siehe unten)

About herself she has the following to say:

I am 27 years old and have grown up in Germany, more specifically on a farm in Bavaria (that is a federal state, as well as in South Africa the Province of Gauteng). I was part of a seven-member family with mom, dad and four sisters. Yes, all girls :). I have fond memories of my childhood which was marked by tradition and faith. My parents and grandparents hoped to instill in us their love for farming and rural life and encouraged us to continue the farming tradition but, sadly for them, each of us went a different way.

I trained as a chemical laboratory technician and worked in that field until last year. Almost two years ago I met my present boyfriend, Marko. When he got a job at BMW, which implied lengthy stays abroad I knew that I would go along. I always thought of living in another country as an adventure and here was my chance to have just such an experience.

And here is how she describes her South African experience:

The destination for Marko’s first overseas assignment was South Africa. I knew very little about the country. In history class we learned about apartheid and I knew it has become a popular tourist destination. As I read about the country I became aware of safety and security issues. Many frightening stories were told which scared me and particularly my family. Getting a visa was also a challenge. For a lengthy stay one needs a work permit which is almost impossible to get unless you have a secure job waiting for you. I therefore decided to apply for a volunteer visa and to look out for such work when in South Africa.

Once we arrived here we were extremely hesitant and cautious. On the street we were scared that oncoming pedestrians would try to rob or stab us. Driving at night was particularly nerve-racking (and often necessary because the sun sets so early) apart from having to concentrate on driving on the left side of the road. Could we get hijacked if we got stranded? What were people doing there on the side of the road? What would happen if we were apprehended by the police? Do they actually threaten people with firearms? I have heard that they are corrupt and open to bribery. Should I always give money to beggars on the street?

There were so many questions in the beginning. We first had to settle in and to listen to the advice of the locals. How do you live a good life here without feeling scared every time you leave your home? we wondered. It was not easy to get used to. In Germany I regularly went jogging in the woods on my own. For a quick trip to a shop I would jump on my bicycle and leave it just there on the street without ever fearing that it will get stolen. We gradually had to forget old habits  and learn new ones. Now that we have found our feet these problems have disappeared.

Of course the country has many beautiful sides to it. It seems as if people here are generally happy and carefree. However, the latter can have a negative effect on morale in the work place. They laugh a lot and find endless opportunities to dance. On top of that they have a forgiving attitude. In the beginning my English was somewhat shaky and I was scared to say the wrong thing. But the people here are very patient and will not laugh at your broken English. You can always ask “What does that mean?“.


During the week I work for an NGO that runs a computer-based programme at two schools where we teach English and Mathematics. The work is great fun. These government schools cater for the poorest of poor children. Many of them have very little support from their parents which affects their appearance and behaviour. Improving their reading and writing skills will contribute to their future and is a meaningful activity to be associated with. In my opinion education is one of the most important things and necessary for oneself as well as for the country. As Nelson Mandela has said, “education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world”

Traveling around the country also gives me great pleasure. I love exploring new places and marveling at unfamiliar landscapes. Of that South Africa has a lot to offer.

Hilfe aus Deutschland

Im März trat Magdalena Pritzl in unser Team ein. Sie verbringt das Jahr in Südafrika und glücklicherweise haben sich unsere Wege gekreuzt, als sie nach einem Ort für Freiwilligenarbeit suchte.

Über sich selbst hat sie folgendes zu sagen:

Ich erzähle erst mal was zu meiner Person und mein Leben in Deutschland. Also ich bin 27 Jahre alt und bin in Deutschland, genauer gesagt in Bayern (das ist ein Bundesland, sowie in Südafrika die Province Gauteng), aufgewachsen. Ich war Teil einer siebenköpfigen Familie mit Mama, Papa und vier Schwestern. Ja, alles Mädchen ;). Meine Kindheit war geprägt von Tradition und Glauben, da ich auf einem Bauernhof im ländlichen Bereich aufgewachsen bin. Ich denke immer wieder gerne an diese Zeit zurück. Meine Eltern und Großeltern versuchten uns Kindern den Beruf Bäuerin und ein Leben auf dem Bauernhof schmackhaft zu machen, jedoch ging jeder von uns einen anderen Weg.

Ich erlernte den Beruf Chemielaborantin und habe den Beruf jahrelang ausgeführt. Vor fast zwei Jahren traf ich dann meinen jetzigen Freund Marko. Als er dann einen Job bei BMW bekam, stand schon vorher fest, dass er auch ins Ausland musste. Für mich war sofort klar, dass ich mitgehen werde, auch aus dem Grund weil ich schon immer längere Zeit ins Ausland wollte und somit meine Abenteuerlust gestillt wird.

Der Bestimmungsort für seinen ersten Auslandsaufenthalt war Südafrika. Ich wusste noch nicht viel über das Land Südafrika. Im Geschichtsunterricht wurde das Thema Apartheid bearbeitet und ich wusste, dass es zu ein Touristenziel geworden ist. Als ich mich mehr damit beschäftigte trat das Thema Sicherheit immer mehr in den Vordergrund. Man hört viele Schauergeschichten von Südafrika, die einen schon ganz schön Angst machen können und mich und meine Familie schon sehr verunsicherten. Dazu kam auch noch die Schwierigkeiten mit dem Visum. Es ist sehr sehr schwer ein Visum für Südafrika zu bekommen. Und ein Arbeitsvisum ist so gut wie unmöglich. Ich brauchte aber für diesen langen Auslandsaufenthalt eine Beschäftigung also entschied ich mich Volunteer-arbeit zu machen und mich für ein Volunteervisum zu bewerben.

Als ich dann mit meinen Freund zusammen in Südafrika angekommen bin, waren wir schon sehr vorsichtig. Wir hatten Angst, dass und die entgegenkommende Person gleich ausrauben und abstechen wird. Oder das Autofahren in der Nacht (manchmal unvermeidlich, weil so früh dunkel wird) war immer ein Nervenkitzel. Werde ich gleich gehighcheckt wenn ich mit dem Auto stehen bleibe? Und dazu auch noch der Linksverkehr! Was machen die da am Straßenrand? Was passiert wenn mich die Polizei aufhält? Bedrohen die einen gleich mit der Waffe? Ich habe gehört die sind korrupt und die kann man bestechen. Muss ich den Bettlern an der Straße immer Geld geben?

Es waren sehr viele Fragen offen am Anfang man musste sich erst mal einleben und sich die Tipps von den Einheimischen anhören. Wie kann man hier am besten Leben ohne jedes mal beim Verlassen des Hauses Angst zu haben?

Es war nicht leicht sich daran zu gewöhnen. In Deutschland bin ich immer alleine zum Joggen in die Wälder gegangen oder bin mit dem Fahrrad schnell zum einkaufen gefahren und konnte dass Fahrrad einfach vor dem Kaufhaus abstellen, ohne dass es gleich geklaut wird. Man muss die alten Gewohnheiten teilweise ablegen. Aber inzwischen ist das jetzt kein Problem mehr für mich.

Natürlich hat das Land auch sehr viele schöne Seiten. Mir kommt es so vor als wären die Menschen hier glücklicher und unbeschwerter (das wirkt sich manchmal negativ auf die Arbeitsmoral aus). Sie lachen viel und tanzen so viel wie es geht. Außerdem sind sie sehr Fehlertolerant. Anfangs war mein englisch nicht so gut und ich hatte wollte keine Fehler machen und irgendwas falsches sagen. Aber die Leute sind hier sehr geduldig und lachen einen nicht aus. Du kannst sie jederzeit Fragen „What means that?“

Unter der Woche arbeite ich in einer Hilfsorganisation, die Kinder mithilfe eines Computerprogramms Englisch und Mathematik unterrichtet. Die Arbeit macht mir Spaß. In dieser staatlichen Schule sind die ärmsten der Armen Kinder. Vielen von denen dürfen keine elterliche Erziehung genießen und das wirkt sich auf auf das Verhalten und auf das Aussehen aus. Es tut gut deren Lese- und Schreibkenntnisse zu verbessern. Meiner Meinung nach ist Bildung eines der wichtigsten Sachen und notwendig für einen selbst und für das Land. Sowie Nelson Mandela gesagt hat: „education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world“

Was mir auch noch viel Freude bereitet ist das Reisen. Ich liebe es neue Landschaften zu erkunden und zu bestaunen. Und Südafrika hat sehr viel zu bieten.


Everything comes together in 2017

The entire foundation  phase is now on our programme: 74 grade 1s; 66 grade 2s and 55 grade 3s.

We have seen much progress, particularly with the grade 3s who work independently and with confidence. There has been lots to celebrate.

The 100 group: This group has completed 100 Reading Eggs lessons. Bhekimuzi was the first when he reached this milestone in2016. Karabo is the first grade 2 learner to finish 100 lessons. (The mouse is a take-home proof of this milestone!).

The 120 group: Of the 17 in the 100 group six have completed the 120 Reading Eggs lessons and are currently busy with Storylands and a spelling module. Storylands is a series of 20 lessons based on a book series of a royal family who are larger than life. They live in Clinker Castle, have a dragon for a pet and go swimming in their moat.

IMG_2229a.jpgIn each of the 96 spelling lessons 12 words are practised in interesting ways and tested in the end. This requires new skills of careful listening and of typing. We decided to let them figure that out for themselves. Great was my surprise when Vuyisile put both his hands on the keyboard and used all his fingers straight away!



Bana ba Modimo / Children of God / Kinders van God

Our very successful year came to an end on 29 November with a day of fun and games, cupcakes, reading and saying goodbye to mrs Mavundlela the principal of the Leeuwfontein Primary School who retired at the end of the year.

img_1577a  img_1590a  img_1592a img_1603a

The highlight of the day was when the grade 3 learners each received a copy of Bana  ba Modimo, a book of Bible stories written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu with exceptionally beautiful illustrations by various South African artists and translated in the major South 1milionAfrican Languages. The books were donated to us by the Christian Literature Fund ( ). Your donation can help them reach their goal of putting one million Bibles in the hands of South African children.

We were immediately treated to readings by our children to the delight of their two teachers who could see the results of their year’s work.

patiencea        christinaha        andilea

Baie dankie aan vriende  wat bygedra het om die dag moontlik te maak. Ons weet dat julle soos ons glo dat alle kinders van God ons liefde en sorg verdien:

  • Christelike Lektuurfonds vir die kinderbybels
  • Derdepark vir lekker eetgoed
  • Gabbata Lodge vir vrugtesap

2016 Success

  • At Leeuwfontein we could expand the project to Grade 2 and start with Mathseeds, a sister programme of Reading Eggs for a headstart in Maths.
  • Numbers almost doubled from 71 in 2015 to 131 in 2016. img_1556a
  • Altogether the Grade 1 and 2 learners completed 3092 lessons and read 1399 books (end October). Two of our Grade 2 boys reached the 100 lessons milestone.
  • The Grade R learners completed 103 lessons and read 18 books.
  • The Click Foundation donated 10 chromebooks and we bought 4 additional laptops with Beeld Kinderfonds money.
  • The classroom at Leeuwfontein was revamped to accommodate 35 learners per session.

International Literacy Day 2016

The 50th celebration of ILD was a fun day at the Leeuwfontein Primary School. The theme for this year was Reading the past – Writing the future. Read more about the day at and

The Grade 1s played word games and were treated to a brand new Sepedi translation of the story Why tortoise has a cracked shell (;

This Sepedi retelling of an old East-African folk tale –Ke ka lebaka la eng khudu ana le legapi la go palega – was done for the occasion by Matsedi Mahlatji, librarian at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University and who was one of the readers at the World Read Aloud Day in March.

The Grade 2s were able to make money by reading from their English readers, doing a Nal’ibali word quiz and by telling the story Stronger than Lion / Ye maatla a go feta a Tau, one of the Nal’ibali books which they read recently.

They also drew pictures of their future selves. We particularly liked this one of the stylish teacher with the purple boots, glasses, not to mention the smart car, and the policeman who is part of this vibrant community.


Ice lollies rounded off the festivities