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Rural Education Assistant Project re-emphasises the importance of literacy and numeracy

Teaching approaches in rural schools have been changed for the better owing to the recruitment of Education Assistants (EAs) as part of the Rural Education Assistant Project (REAP).

The REAP was launched by Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga, in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal Province on 27 September 2018, as a model to improve literacy and numeracy in schools. The REAP is a pilot project aimed at researching the use of
EAs in the Foundation and Intermediate Phases for improving the quality of education in rural schools.

Director for the Rural Education Directorate, Dr Phumzile Langa, has recently deployed a team of education experts to the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo Provinces, to monitor the effective implementation of the REAP amid Covid-19. According to Dr Langa, the EAs assist teachers with curricula and co-curricular activities, for example assisting learners with classwork and reading activities. Dr Langa expressed her gratitude to the School Management Teams (SMTs) under whom the 750 EAs are employed. “The SMTs made a significant contribution to this project since they ensured that the EAs were properly inducted before engaging learners,” said Dr Langa.

Ms Khululiwe Nyusela, Deputy Principal for Tekwini Primary School, reported that the REAP has been very helpful in her school. “The EAs enable teachers to concentrate on the core classroom business taking responsibility for maintaining discipline, social distancing and ensuring that learners are frequently sanitised. I really appreciate the role played by EAs in improving learning outcomes, although schools are expected to work in stringent measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Teachers should guide them to enjoy working in a schooling environment.”

Education Assistant, Mr Siphiwo Mbambani, described the REAP as a game changer, adding that, “since I have been working with the learners, I developed a passion for the teaching profession. I will have to find a way to pursue a career in this field”.

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