Growing smarter

Now I read a lot, a lot, a LOT more than before!” said 11-year-old Ruwayda Garson, one of the team of three pupils to win the Growsmart Literacy Challenge for Belmor Primary School in Hanover Park on International Literacy Day, September 8.

“Now I know I can do anything. Reading has changed my life. Because I read the newspaper, I read about open day at the Eoan Group.
“Now I am acting with the Eoan Group and I plan to be an actor when I grow up,” she adds, referring to the opera and drama group founded in District Six in the 1930s.

Michaela Jeptha and Jayden Williams, the other members of the team, were both sure their team would win. “I told my team, losing is not an option!” Jayden told theTeacher. “I thought we would win but I was still excited when we did. I was overwhelmed,” said Michaela, who told us the three winners stayed in after school to study instead of playing.

<strong>One copy for each grade</strong>
The Growsmart Literacy Challenge team publishes three Growsmart “newspapers” a year, one copy for each grade three, four and five pupil in the 168 participating schools.The papers are quirky, colourful and pedagogically sound and cover aspects of the school curriculum. Each has a page of difficult words — such as “onomatopoeia”, “preposterous”, “quadrant” and “ramification”.

These words and any other word in the Growsmart newspapers may feature in the spelling bee-type challenge where participants are required to spell a word, define it and use it in a sentence, all out loud in front of an audience.  Jayden’s mother told us: “He would come home and I would say, ‘You need to eat first,’ and then he would sit with the dictionary. His teacher gave him her own dictionary,” she added, speaking of Bonita August, the team’s mentor.

<strong>Joining the library</strong>
August encouraged all her pupils to join the local municipal library. “We send library forms home with children in grade one and again in grade four and we tell the parents the library is free and reading is important.”

All three winners now read library books for pleasure. They are reading Spud, Who’s That Girl and Robato, they told the Teacher. Belmor Primary was one of 168 primary schools in the Cape Town area which the Western Cape education department thought would benefit from the competition.

The school has won a R200000 upgrade to the premises, which will be paid for and executed by the Growthpoint Property Group, which sponsors the Growsmart Literacy Challenge. The three winning pupils have each won R20000 worth of educational equipment and school fees. Growsmart organisers access the equipment or pay the school fees. No money is handed to winning pupils or schools. Growsmart does both the buying and the building work.

<strong>Winning equipment</strong>
When asked for their wish lists, all three winners asked for computers, printers and cartridges. “Your parents will have to fetch you from school on the day you get your computers. You don’t want to have your laptop snatched on your way home,” Jewel Harris, Growthpoint Properties assistant regional manager, told the winners, referring to the danger of gangsters near the school.

The school’s wish list, submitted by principal Carol Poole, included a dictionary for each learner, more reading books, renovations to staff and pupils’ toilets, playing fields, sports equipment and a school bus.

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