The inaugural phase of a school remedial programme, the Wellness Relay, has been launched at Dibeng Primary School, in the Gamagara Local Municipality, as an extension of the Ubuntu School Project. The programme aims to identify barriers to learning and recommend remedial action or therapy, to ensure learners can overcome them, whilst supporting parents and educators.

“Learning barriers negatively impact on the performance of learners in the classroom, and at home. These barriers often lead to poor academic performance, disruptions in the classroom and often violent behaviour towards educators, peers and parents,” Veronique Isaacs, Regional Community Operations Manager for REISA.

REISA has been implementing the Ubuntu School Project since June 2017, with the appointment of a full-time Social Worker dedicated to supporting learners, educators and parents. Through the Social Workers’ extensive engagements with learners and educators, the challenge of learning barriers was brought to light. These barriers relate to hearing, sight, language and anxiety.

“A small mind shift can be noticed with regards to school attendance and discipline in the classroom. Real change will require regular and focused interventions by specialists made available through the ‘Wellness Relay’, and remedial learning, something our school and community is in great need of. We are very excited about the interventions of REISA. We think through this support, all educators will ultimately have a better understanding of how to approach the learners and provide them with support,” said Grade 6 educator, Jennifer Louw.

In addition to the various specialists providing services at the launch, assistance from social workers from the Department of Social Development and the South African Defence Force was enlisted to support and assist all parents in understanding their children’s condition.

It is envisaged that 727 learners with learning barriers will be reached over 3 months. Thus, the project will be implemented through a “relay” approach with each specialist handing over to the next one after completing their “service marathon”. This approach will ensure that the school curriculum is not disrupted and that the specialists are able to work in a conducive environment to assess all learners.

The launched took place on 18 July 2018 as a Memorial Celebration of the late, former President Nelson Mandela, known for his strong convictions about education and the future of our nation’s children. This is an additional initiative under the existing Ubuntu School Project targeting overall functionality of schools.

Schools that will be incorporated over the three month period include: Gamagara High School and Dibeng Primary School (Dibeng); Maikaelelo Primary School and Langberg High School (Olifantshoek); and Sishen Intermediate Mine School (Sesheng).

“There is often a profound emotional impact on a child whose academic performance is hampered by an auditory processing and visual motor disorder. These are two of the most important skills required for academic success, particularly for reading,” concluded Isaacs.

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