Slowly our old Venture hops along the poorly maintained dust road between Welbedacht and Khunotswane. Is is very hot. Inside the car there are two childcare workers from Welbedacht and myself. I have a headache and muscle pain. But despite that I forced myself to go on this trip because today is the moment of truth for the Reatlegile After School Center. Today – on the 22nd of November 2021- we will conduct our final evaluation that will determine how many of the children in this center have learnt to read in this center during the course of this year. Should they be less than half of those who attended the literacy classes the center may face possible closure next year.
We arrive in Khunotswane only ten minutes late. More than 40 children are gathered in the center having a late lunch in the big meeting room. Next door they put up three desks for us where we sit down an start with the evaluation. Each child is given three texts to read with words with various degrees of difficulty that it must read aloud. For each correctly read word one point is given. It is moving to see how they trace the words with their small fingers and how they try highly concentrated to join the syllables together to build the words. Some are fast, others need more time but at the end almost all children can read almost all the words.
Out of the 23 kids who could not read at all at the beginning of the year now 20 of them can read! This is equivalent to 87 percent. An almost unbelievable good result! During our first evaluation that took place in June only 25 percent of the children attending Grade 1 and 2 had shown progress. Tebogo, who was teaching these grades in literacy smiles when we say good bye. Relief and proudness are written in her face.
Between 22.11. and 25.11. 21 we carried out such an evaluation in all our ten After School Centers. In total we evaluated 212 children of whom 110 (52 percent) were found competent in reading. That means that we have reached our target that we had set for our After School Program at the beginning of the year: That at least 50 percent of the children who were unable to read at the beginning of the year should become competent in reading by the end of the year. This is a result that our childcare workers can really be proud of and that will make a difference in the whole life of those children.
There were however big differences in the performance of the different After School Centers. Not all of them did so well as the one in Khunotswane. That’s why the Management Committee of Tsibogang Christian Action Group has now scheduled a special meeting on 13.12.21 where the question has to be discussed whether we have to close some of our After School Programs. The background is the critical funding situation for our whole After School Program: Two of the four donor organizations that helped with the funding of the program this year have already indicated that they will not be able to continue with the funding next year. Our big application to the Independent Development Trust in which we had put high hopes was unfortunately not approved.
How many of the centers have to close down and how high the stipend that we can pay to the remaining childcare workers will heavily depend on the amount of donations that we will receive from Foerderkreis Mission & Gemeinschaft e.V. and from the National Lottery Commission.